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After considering feedback from employees, Virgin Atlantic recently declared that its cabin crew members no longer have to wear makeup when serving passengers.
“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 Mark Anderson. “Helping people to be themselves is core to our desire to be the most loved travel company.”
Moving forward, female flight attendants will also receive trousers as part of their uniforms by default, instead of having to request them in addition to the fitted knee-length skirts from Vivienne Westwood’s 2014 collection for the airline.
The move heralds a gradual shift in the commercial aviation industry, which historically has held rigid aesthetic requirements for crew members, especially females. Requirements still vary from airline to airline: Singapore Airlines flight attendants, known as “Singapore Girls,” must adhere to a strict, limited range of accessories, makeup looks and hairstyles, while Emirates goes so far as to designate a very specific shade of “Emirates red” lipstick or nail polish for its flight attendants. In 2017, Israeli airline El Al required female flight attendants to wear high heels while greeting passengers, reinstating a policy that had been retired for a few years. Meanwhile, Pakistan International Airlines drew fire for distributing a memo that called for flight attendants to lose up to 30 pounds of “excess weight” until they reached the desired size.
Featured photo from 2014 by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Virgin Atlantic.
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