- Discrimination / Glasses / harassment / Japan / Japanese companies / Women
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On November 6th, Japanese morning news variety program "Sukkiri" aired a segment addressing the issue of Japanese companies prohibiting women employees from wearing glasses while at work. In the segment, Business Insider Japan's Ikuko Takeshita spoke about how when covering the #KuToo movement (an online movement in response to the forced wearing of heels in the workplace), she found that many of the women she asked about workplace attire guidelines responded that wearing glasses on the job, specifically for women, was not allowed.
While dress code and restriction on hairstyles and color are not uncommon in Japanese workplaces, panel guests and many viewers were surprised to hear that something that can be necessary for daily function such as glasses could be outright banned, and specifically regulated in regards to women. Takeshita listed employer reasoning behind such restrictions regarding eye-wear according to their respective industry:
Beauty salon staff or cosmetic goods retailer: Glasses make it difficult for customers to see your makeup.
Reception staff for companies, hotels, events, etc.: Glasses give a cold impression towards customers, or don't give a good appearance, so women mustn't wear them.
Flight attendants and airline staff: Glasses breaking or falling off in the case of an emergency situation could cause danger to a customer.
Staff at traditional Japanese restaurants: Glasses don't give a good appearance when paired with kimono
Japanese Twitter user @wine_kimono, a sommelier who has worked in several traditional restaurants with a kimono dress code, expressed frustration at being told not to wear glasses at work because "glasses look weird with kimono", "what happens if you drop your glasses into the food?" and "it's rude to look at customers over the rims of your glasses."
On the show, Takeshita rooted the vague reasoning of "appearance" to an old Japanese adage of women needing to be a "beauty in the workplace", lamenting that "on top of needing job skills and being a beauty in the workplace, women are required to be mannequins." Other panel guests couldn't understand the meaning of "glasses not giving a good appearance" and balked at the insinuation of lack of eye-wear to improved work skill.
Since the airing of the program, many Japanese Twitter (women) users have used the hashtag #メガネ着用禁止 ("wearing glasses forbidden") to express their displeasure with attitude of companies that ban glasses for women:
"There are companies that won't let you wear glasses? That way of thinking is too old."
"Not letting women wear glasses because "it doesn't give a good appearance". That's a magnificent form of harassment."
"I wasn't allowed to wear glasses at my previous workplace." They told me it was because it made me look "too cold." I didn't understand it at all.
"This is a very familiar topic for me. I had to quit my part-time job at a shabu-shabu restaurant because they wouldn't let me wear my glasses."