As you know, Turkish Airlines (THY) is now at the top of the agenda with its “red lipstick” ban. Yes, this is the latest “corporate” move of the airline that has the motto “We are globally yours.”
Is it only red lipstick? Any hair color that does not look “natural” as well as red and pink nail polish is also banned. A series of new rules have been introduced from how the eye pencil is to be used to a complete ban on blushers, to asymmetric hair styles to buns that are too much above the back of the neck. (God forbid, the appearance of the back of the neck may be flamboyant.)
The justification is as follows: “It is preferred for the serving staff is plain, well-groomed and using make-up in pastel colors. Lipstick and nail polish in red, dark pink and similar colors that are not present in the current uniform disrupt the visual coherence…”
If there is anybody who understands the definition of this “visual coherence,” please come forward. Was it the combination of navy blue and red that made their eyes uncomfortable? I wish they would not use vague expressions such as “pastel colors” but instead write down one by one for the stewardesses the code of the eye shadow and the number of the nail polish to be used.
Airline or school?
In the service sector, a general outline of the outfit is drawn; this is also valid for airlines. However, the THY administration is confusing corporate management with being a school principal. We will not be surprised if soon they ban high heels, eyeliners and the appearance of “one strand of hair uncovered.”
The actual problem is that they have defined flamboyance by red lipstick and dark colored nail polish. What lies beneath this is, as you can see in the new uniform proposals, the efforts of the THY administration to re-design “womanhood.” A woman who wears red lipstick and nail polish, in their eyes, is “loose” or “unsuitable.” This is the essence of the issue but indeed, they cannot say it openly.
As a matter of fact, sometimes it is possible to be extremely attractive, even flamboyant, with pastel make up. Flamboyancy is related to the individual and whoever is looking at this person, not to the length of the skirt or to the color of the lipstick.
THY strike at the door
The THY statement read, “The company merges the hospitality and warmth stemming from the local culture with innovative approaches.”
What has it got to do with this? The way things stand; I would not be surprised if I see flight staff in “traditional” uniforms baking “gözleme” (traditional pancakes) in the plane. Look at this, both local and innovative.
As a passenger, in fact, what I expect from THY is that they invest in training and experience before the color of the lipstick staff use. That they organize the working conditions of the flight personnel according to universal norms.
If the THY administration, which meddles into the privacy of its staff to this extent, with funny excuses such as “the lipstick gets on the teeth,” were to spend this energy answering calls from trade unions, then we would feel safer.
Mehveş Evin is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on May 2. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.