DEBATE: Thomas Cook Aeroplane Dress Code For Women

The Verse’s Meg Compton talks about the recent debate on the dress code for women on airline flights. 

Emily O’Connor had made her way through several different stages of the airport before being stopped and made aware that her outfit was deemed “inappropriate” for Thomas Cooks’ flight to Tenerife. A BBC News article stated that Emily was informed by the cabin crew that her outfit “caused offence”. However, during a This Morning interview, Emily stated that ‘she got into the middle of the aisle and announced to the plane… just wondering if anybody deems this outfit to be inappropriate or if it is causing offence’ to which nobody replied. Emily was then told by the cabin crew that she would be getting off the flight to Tenerife. She also mentioned that a passenger shouted obscenities at her as well as calling her a “pathetic woman” for holding up the flight.

Now, you may be wondering what is this scandalous outfit she was wearing? Is it really that offensive? The outfit Emily was wearing consisted of a black crotched/knitted crop top and a pair of mustard trousers. Nothing out of the ordinary (she did have a jacket but had taken it off due to the heat). The next question you’re probably asking is ‘Why?’ Now Thomas Cook has an inappropriate clothing policy, however, is this outfit inappropriate? No, it isn’t. This is a blatant display of different rules for different genders.

Emily points out that there was a man wearing a tank top and shorts. And although we should not point fingers and say ‘he can’t wear that if I cannot wear this’, it does display an unequal, unjust and unfair system of rules that are more lenient for men than they are women. These rules are here to reinforce gender stereotypes, such as women have to dress like ladies. They are the same set of rules that allow a women’s outfit to be used against them within sexual assault cases. It’s too short, too revealing, too sheer, the list goes on.

Thomas Cook’s inappropriate clothing rule in this specific case leans into the ongoing sexualisation of the female body. Women’s bodies rather than being seen as a human body, there to live, breath and experience life. It is often seen as a sexual being. Every part of the female anatomy is sexualised, from the breasts all the way to the toes. This over-sexualisation has led to many issues throughout society, such as school dress-code policies.

Recently in a school in Chilliwack, they have been discussing changing the dress-code policy. According to an article, the Chilliwack dress-code made a girl ‘wear a sweater in June because she was wearing a top that had spaghetti straps’. Rather than raising a generation of young girls to dress to avoid unwarranted sexual attention (which doesn’t disappear when you’re covered), we should be educating everyone that the female body is not a sexual entity, and educating everybody about consent.

The sexualisation of the breast is also fuel behind these female clothing rules/expectations. There have been many issues surrounding the breasts and their use. Some forget that breasts are actually functioning parts of the human body which leads to issues and shaming of women when breastfeeding. Last year the management of a shopping centre in Kolkata, India, told a mother to stop breastfeeding her baby in public. Not only does this reinforce the sexualisation of the breast, but it also demonises women for trying to feed their babies in public. Shaming them for doing a natural act within a public space. This is detrimental to the progression of women’s rights, as it reinforces the concept of the women staying within the house to take care of their children.

What I’ve learned from this Thomas Cook incident is that the sexualisation of the female body is still a prevalent issue within our society. This societal issue is something that can be fixed over time, we have to start with education. The female body is not a sexual present for the world to view. The female body is strong, diverse and amazing.


This Morning interview:

The BBC article:

The Chilliwack article:

Breastfeeding article:

The Verse Staff

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