Japanese women, not allowed to wear glasses at work, fight back against ban

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/A_Japanese_woman_with_eyeglasses.jpg
Credit: Google images, Yu Morita from Tokyo, Japan

Women in Japan have been stirred up to protest dress codes enforced by some companies that ban female employees from wearing eye glasses to work.

Public awareness of the injustice is going viral on social media after a recent Nippon TV program reported on the issue, as well as several other media reports that have followed.

A hashtag that translates to “Glasses are forbidden” is trending in the Asian country with women posting images of their glasses along with their expressions of scorn for the company policies that in some cases may not be official but are in fact socially-accepted practice.

Various reasons in defense of the ban on glasses for women, according to those reporting on the story, include safety reasons for airline workers or being able to clearly demonstrate make-up for those working in the beauty industry.

Some retail chains said female sales clerks with glasses leave a “cold impression.”

A BBC article indicates that there is a great deal of support for the practice in Japan as well as plenty of revulsion and that the social media discussion are sometimes getting heated.

Kumiko Nemoto, professor of sociology at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, said people are right to be talking about the “outdated” policies that reflect “old, traditional Japanese” thinking.

“The reasons why women are not supposed to wear glasses … really don’t make sense,” she said. “It’s all about gender. It’s pretty discriminatory.

“It’s not about how women do their work,” the professor continued. “The company … values the women’s appearance as being feminine and that’s opposite to someone who wears glasses.”

Last year in South Korea, a similar rise in awareness of the cultural taboo of women wearing glasses came out of a female MBC news anchor, Lim Hyeon-ju (aka Anna Hyunju), wearing glasses. Quartz reported that after Lim’s decision to start wearing glasses on air, and much social media discussion, other South Korean organizations have started to ease their policy bans against eyeglasses for women in the workplace.

 

According to Quartz:

The relative rarity of women wearing glasses isn’t simply restricted to the media industry. A recent study conducted by online job-portal Career, cited by the Hankyoreh newspaper, found that of 552 Korean workers surveyed, 60% said that they hadn’t seen a female coworker wear glasses at work before. And three-fourths of respondents said that if they wear glasses they receive comments from others.

Other such dress code restrictions for females are increasingly under public scrutiny in Asia. In June, 19,000 people signed a petition calling for Japan to prohibit dress codes that require women to wear high heels. The BBC reported that campaign “is referred to in Japan as #KuToo. It plays on the Japanese words for shoes ‘kutsu’ and pain ‘kutsuu’ and also references the #MeToo movement, according to Kyodo News.”

Medical authorities have found that wearing high heels increases the risk of injury from slipping or falling as well as potential damage and pain to the feet, legs and back.

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