The airline Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will no longer force its women flight attendants to wear makeup, a decision that the company said was made after “listening to the views of our people.” The airline has long been known for its strict appearance requirements for female cabin crew members, who were expected to wear makeup and don skirts to complete their iconic red uniforms. As part of changes to the company’s styling policy, the makeup requirement has been scrapped and women will now be provided with pants to wear if they so choose. Previously, women had to specifically ask the company to provide pants if they wanted to wear them.
“Not only do the new guidelines offer an increased level of comfort, they also provide our team with more choice on how they want to express themselves at work,” said Virgin Atlantic Executive Vice-President of Customer Mark Anderson in a statement to CNN. “Our world-famous red uniform is something all of us at Virgin Atlantic are incredibly proud of.”
Historically, airlines have regulated the appearance of women cabin crew in a bid to appeal to male businessmen and travelers. But in recent years, flight attendants have increasingly resisted such requirements. In 2017, two flight attendants sued Russian airline Aeroflot for age and gender discrimination after the airline required that all women flight attendants fit into size 14 clothing at the largest. Three years ago in China, the revelation that more than 1,000 recent high school graduates posed in bikinis for representatives from the aviation industry seeking to hire new flight attendants sparked international outrage and calls for change. And in March 2018, Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific announced that they were finally ending their 70-year-old requirement that women employees wear short skirts after facing pressure from a Hong Kong flight attendant’s union.
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