Up until now, some companies still enforce a dress code for work. They might look like an easy thing to deal with, but in reality, it causes many problems. For women, they must wear skirts or dresses, heels, and makeup that is not too “loud.” In cases like this, women often wonder if these restrictions or requirements only apply to them. Especially in the new case about Japan barring women from wearing eyeglasses at work.
Last month, several Japanese outlets said companies have banned women from wearing eyeglasses because they give a “cold impression” to saleswomen, reports Forbes. Other reasons for the ban also include “safety” for airline workers and “being able to clearly see” for beauty industry workers. But here’s where it gets trickier: Men are still allowed to wear glasses. So yes, we can all agree that sexist workplace dress codes still exist.
A Twitter hashtag, #メガネ禁止 (which translates to “glasses are forbidden”) inspired Japanese women to come together, saying that they don’t have to comply to the “outdated and oppressive beauty standards.” But this isn’t the first dress code policy in Japan that sparked outrage. Japanese Actress Yumi Ishikawa also started the #KuToo movement in June, a protest about women wearing high heels in the workplace. “If wearing glasses is a real problem at work it should be banned for everyone—men and women. This problem with glasses is the exact same as high heels. It’s only a rule for female workers,” said Ishikawa. Other women shared their own stories of discomfort too, posting photos of their blistered feet in heels.
The hashtag used to power this drive for freedom from the compulsory heel is #KuToo, a play on #MeToo.
The ‘ku’ part comes from ‘kutsu’ (靴), which is Japanese for shoe(s). One Japanese word for pain, ‘kutsuu’ (苦痛) is similar to ‘kutsu’, and pronounced similarly to #KuToo. pic.twitter.com/WpP5ktYQlO
Japan is not the only country that has issues with dress codes that target women. British Columbia and the Philippines passed laws banning companies from forcing women to wear high heels in 2017. In 2016, English actress Nicola Thorp was sent home from work for the day without pay and later fired, for not wearing heels, which sparked outrage throughout England. The 2015 Cannes Film Festival in France barred several women from entering unless they wore heels. At the 2016 festival, women showed up in sneakers or even barefoot to rebel against the rule and to stand up for the women who were not allowed in. Most recently, in July 2019, California became the first state in the U.S. to adopt a law that bans hairstyle discrimination in the workplace and in schools. Senator Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles created the law because, as a Black woman, she wants other Black people to feel free to wear their hair in braids, twists, and dreadlocks without feeling discriminated.
“The emphasis on appearance is often on young women and wanting them to look feminine,” Banri Yanagi, a 40-year-old sales associate from Tokyo, told the Japan Times. “It’s strange to allow men to wear glasses but not women.”