When Shannon Watts saw teen girls getting turned away from a United Airlines flight for wearing leggings, she felt compelled to call out the airline for what she felt was sexism. The story went viral, and now Watts is opening up in an op-ed for Time about why she did it.
2) She's forcing them to change or put dresses on over leggings or they can't board. Since when does @united police women's clothing?- Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 26, 2017
3) Gate agent for flt 215 at 7:55. Said she doesn't make the rules, just follows them. I guess @united not letting women wear athletic wear?- Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 26, 2017
United explained that they enforce the dress code only for “pass holders,” or passengers who get free or discounted passes to fly. Usually, they’re airline employees or their friends and family members. Because of this, they’re meant to represent the airline and thus have strict standards about how they carry themselves. According to The Points Guy, United’s policy bans “form-fitting lycra-spandex tops, pants, and dresses,” and United seems to be the only major airline that has any policy on stretchy pants.
But Watts isn’t just going to accept that explanation. In her op-ed, she noted that men and woman are often graded on different standards when it comes to what they wear. “Women are tired of being policed for our clothing. Dress codes are laced with words and phrases that easily conform to - and are manipulated by - a misogynistic society,” she wrote. “United’s pass rider dress policy, whether intentional or not , is sexist, and it sexualizes young girls by calling leggings inappropriate.” United’s dress code also bans mini skirts, attire that shows a midriff, or shorts that are shorter than three inches above the knee, all restrictions that single out clothing mainly worn by women.
Watts, a former public relations executive and current gun-safety activist, also called out United on Medium, saying that they should understand that women can take their money elsewhere.”Women make 80 percent of the spending decision for our families and there is no doubt that includes which airline our families choose to fly on,” she wrote. “In 2017, corporate social responsibility matters and so do optics. Do better.”
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