The Fashion Police Take to the Skies

Debbie says:

Let’s start with a quiz:

woman in outfit with miniskirt

Why was this woman almost denied the right to use her paid airline ticket a couple of months ago?

Hint: You can see the answer in the picture. She has no concealed weapons, no history of terrorism, and she’s not on the no-fly lists.

Answer: Her outfit could be “too revealing.”

The (male) flight attendant thought her skirt was too short. After escorting her off the plane, he “relented” and let her fly, since she had no clothes with her to change into.

As Ann at Feministing points out very clearly, her skirt is no shorter than Southwest mandated its flight attendants to wear 40 or so years ago:

flight attendants in miniskirts

As horrifying as this story is, fat activists know that it’s on a continuum with previous policies. Southwest enforces its “fat people may be required to purchase two seats” policy unevenly and unfairly. There is no information (including dimensions) which you can give them in advance to determine if you will be required to buy a second seat. Nonetheless, they’ve weathered a couple of lawsuits on the policy, and they’re getting frisky. Why harass just fat people, when you can harass all women, or even everybody?

The incident happened “two months ago,” and that Southwest has not disciplined the flight attendant and won’t reveal his last name. Their corporate spokespeople are being mealy-mouthed about the incident: “there were [unspecified] concerns about the revealing nature of her outfit.” Maybe they didn’t want to be reminded that Ebbert is a) female, and b) has two legs. Maybe they just like making grown women cry.

What’s next? “Sorry, ma’am, those colors clash.” “Excuse me, sir, but we noticed the holes in your socks when you took your shoes off for the x-ray.”

I liked it better when “fashion police” was a wry and slightly sarcastic term, myself.

airlines, Southwest Airlines, feminism, fashion, body image, fashion police, Body Impolitic

4 thoughts on “The Fashion Police Take to the Skies

  1. Nits R US Department: I think you mean “40 or so” years ago, not 50. Unless the 60s have retreated further into the misty past than I thought!

  2. Additional irritating bits:

    The Sign On San Diego article you linked quoted the woman’s mother as complaining about her daughter’s treatment because “My daughter is young, tall, blond and beautiful.” I guess it would have been OK to harrass her if she’d been something else?

    The writer reported that his colleague Garin “wondered if a jealous woman may have complained about Ebbert’s outfit.” Because of course we can’t blame a male flight attendant for the harrassment.

  3. I think it was on Delta a few months ago that a flight attendant booted a woman and her husband and son off a flight for breast feeding. In that case, the airline apologized profusely and confirmed that the flight attendant wasn’t following company policy.

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