Lipstick Ban Reversed: Why Did Turkish Airlines Ban Flight Attendants From Wearing Lipstick?

By Philip Ross on May 10, 2013 4:15 PM EDT

lipstick ban
Are red lips too sexy for Turkish Airlines? According to new reports regarding the apparent lipstick ban on Turkish Airlines flight attendants, the carrier no longer thinks so. (Photo: Flickr/Orofacial)

Are red lips too sexy for Turkish Airlines? According to new reports regarding the apparent lipstick ban for Turkish Airlines flight attendants, the carrier has reneged on its plan to ban bright-colored lipstick for its staff.

Earlier this month, news surfaced that Turkish Airways banned its flight attendants from wearing red lipstick or from painting their nails bright colors in an effort to make its crew have a more "natural look."

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"As a consequence of our current cabin uniforms not including red, dark pink, etc, the use of lipstick and nail polish in these colors by our cabin crew impairs visual integrity," the company said in a statement.

Reuters reports that now, however, Turkish Airlines is backpedaling on its rule, citing backlash from secular Turks concerned about the country becoming too conservative. Upper level management at Turkish Airways is even saying that the lipstick ban was a mistake.

According to Telegraph, the airline's chief executive, Temel Kotil, says the ban was not sanctioned by the carrier's senior bosses, but was rather an order made by lower-level executives.

"As to the lipstick, we had no problems but somehow low-level managers put together a paper without asking us and that paper leaked to the media and became a big issue," Kotil told reporters in London. "Staff can use the color they want. This measure was not approved by the hierarchy."

Still, the measure was the latest in a series of conservative measures approved by the airline. The airline stopped serving alcohol on flights in February, and, during the same month, plans for new flight attendant uniforms, which featured ankle-length dresses and Ottoman-style fez caps, were drawn up, Telegraph reports.

Strict dress code guidelines on airlines are not confined to Turkish Airlines.

Earlier this year, ABC News reported that flight attendants at Asiana Airlines, Korea's second-largest airline, were distraught over guidelines governing female flight attendant appearance. The rules about what women flight attendants could wear were 10 pages long; males had only two pages of rules. Even the Human Rights Commission of Korea got behind the flight attendants' fight for pants.

One of the female's policies was to wear only skirts. It was the only airline in South Korea with a no-pants rule for female flight attendants. From ABC:

The airline, according to The National Human Rights Commission of Korea, also has specific rules regarding hairstyles and makeup. Kweon told the AP Asiana the airline has a ban on eye glasses, a requirement to cover up facial blemishes, and requirements for the length of earrings the flight attendants wear.

Asiana's flight attendants eventually won the right to wear pants on the job, which advocates claimed wasn't just about comfort -- it was also about safety.

"The uniform was originally designed with Korean traditional dress in mind, where women don't wear pants," an Asiana spokesperson told CNN back in March. "We haven't updated the uniform since, but we are in the process of doing so now." 

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