Japanese Companies Anger Netizens With Policy That Bans Women From Wearing Glasses At Work

Some retail chains reportedly said glasses-wearing receptionists gave a "cold impression".

Cover image via The Independent & Bloomberg/The Japan Times

Some workplaces in Japan have banned female employees from wearing glasses at work

Women in a variety of workplaces across Japan, including receptionists at departmental stores to hospitality staff at restaurants and nurses at beauty clinics, have been banned from wearing glasses, reported Business Insider.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Business Insider

The conversation started when Japan's local Nippon TV aired a story asking major companies why they require female employees to wear contact lenses instead of spectacles

According to BBC, the documentary that was aired last Wednesday, 6 November, revealed that a domestic airline reportedly has a no-glasses rule for flight attendants due to safety concerns, while a cosmetic company said it was difficult to see an employee's make-up behind their glasses.

Some retail chains reportedly said glasses-wearing receptionists gave a "cold impression" while some restaurants said glasses didn't go well with their waitresses' kimonos.

In an interview with Business Insider, a Japanese woman also said that her boss had told her that glasses are prohibited because she "needed to look feminine", also adding "that looking intelligent" can be a setback at work.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Bloomberg/The Japan Times

The show has sparked heated discussion on Japanese social media over the prescribed beauty standards and dress practices faced by women in the workplace

The hashtag "#メガネ禁止", translating into "glasses are forbidden", started trending on Twitter as Japanese women fight for the right to wear eyeglasses at work.

One post criticising such policies even amassed over 28,000 retweets.

The user ranted, "So if my boss was an unsightly, bald, and fat man, would he be prohibited at the workplace? If appearances were that important, he should be.

"I feel there is no reason not to wear glasses except for safety concerns. Wearing glasses is more necessary than serving customers blindly. Companies should plan their policies better."

Another Twitter user said, "Don't ban with selfish values. Imagine if a person is not given the job just because she could not wear contact lenses for various reasons. Stop discrimination against women."

While this Twitter user highlighted her own experience with not being able to wear contact lenses because of an eye infection but was still compelled to do so and endured the pain.

The prohibition on glasses is the latest prejudice faced by professional women in Japan

In March this year, according to Fortune, women railed against the common requirement by employers that they have to wear make-up at work.

Also earlier this year, actor and writer Yumi Ishikawa sparked a Twitter movement with the hashtag 'KuToo' to criticise rules that require women to wear high heels to work.

The hashtag plays on the Japanese words for shoe, or kutsu, and pain, kutsuu.

She had also started an online petition signed by more than 31,000 supporters who agree that standing in heels all day should not be a job requirement for female workers.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via BBC

"This problem with glasses is the exact same as high heels. It's only a rule for female workers," said Ishikawa

"If wearing glasses is a real problem at work it should be banned for everyone - men and women," she said.

Meanwhile, when contacted by Fortune, labor ministry official Ryutarou Yamagishi said there has been no changes to rules governing dress codes, adding that he wasn't aware of the "glasses are forbidden" hashtag.

Meanwhile in Terengganu, aspiring female gymnasts are being barred from competing because they "expose their bodies":

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