Bizarre and downright oppressive dress code for working women at Japanese offices created a storm on social media, proving that a developed economy may not coincide with a developed and progressive work culture.
According to a report in BBC earlier this month, some companies in Japan had banned women employees from wearing glasses at work. Several reasons were given for this draconian rule, most of them being utterly strange. For instance, some retail chains said women shop assistants wearing spectacles gave a “cold impression”.
Media outlets like Nippon TV and Business Insider reported on how firms across industries prohibit their women employees from wearing glasses at the workplace. These media outlets also revealed the reasons given by these companies for doing so. Thus, while glasses were considered to be a safety concern in the airline industry, women working in the beauty industry were discouraged from wearing glasses as that was deemed to conceal make-up.
Such companies may have been driven by a hard-nosed calculation of what they feel works best for their ‘brand image’, but the glasses ban doesn’t exactly qualify them as the most humane and employee-friendly workplaces around.
The glasses ban attracted a lot of criticism on social media, with the hashtag ‘glasses are forbidden’ trending.
According to Kumiko Nemoto, professor of sociology at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, people in Japan are reacting to “outdated” policies. She said it reflected the “old, traditional Japanese” mindset and slammed the blatant gender discrimination.
Nemoto pointed out that the glasses ban emanated from the companies’ idea of femininity and glasses did not fit in that definition.
Japanese workplaces were at the centre of a similar controversy over dress codes recently, with actor and writer Yumi Ishikawa launching a petition to end dress codes in Japan after being made to wear high heels while working at a funeral parlour.