Meet the flight attendants who want to do away with “objectifying” uniforms
We are all used to a certain etiquette on airplanes. Obey seat belt signs, turn off electrical devices during takeoff and landing, and fight for an armrest when in the middle seat.
But there’s another feature of the flight that we take for granted – we’re used to a neatly dressed female cabin crew in high heels with hair in a bun.
Recently, however, a Ukrainian airline decided to do things a little differently and adopt a more comfortable dress code.
What does a comfortable cabin crew uniform look like?
The airline replaced the classic skirt suit with pants and heeled shoes with sneakers. Changes have also been made to the hair and makeup guidelines.
“The employee has many options for styling her hair, depending on her preferences. And make-up has become more pleasing to the eye thanks to the use of colors visible from the cockpit, ”explains Marianna Grygorash, Head of Marketing at the Ukrainian company SkyUp Airlines.
Flight attendants will wear the new uniforms, created by two well-known Ukrainian fashion brands, starting this fall.
“For maximum comfort during work, there will be no more heeled shoes, only sneakers. The same goes for pants. However, it is possible that elongated and loose shorts will appear in the summer version. of the uniform, ”Grygorash explains.
So while some guidelines (i.e. on makeup colors) seem to be for cosmetic reasons, the uniform itself is to encourage women to feel more comfortable while doing so. their work 30,000 feet in the air.
The company representative says he proposed the new dress code after a series of interviews with cabin crew, where some concerns were highlighted.
It’s about women’s rights and gender equality
“We have highlighted one of the topics of global importance – women’s rights and gender equality,” Grygorash explains.
“We hope this will become a momentum for positive global transformations in views and attitudes towards the treatment of women not only in aviation, but in its entirety.
“A woman in any field should have comfortable working conditions, and the ‘brand’ of the crew should not necessarily include heels and a classic suit,” she says.
The initiative sparked debates on social media.
“Isn’t it time that these kinds of outdated policies objecting to women were eradicated for good?”, Posted supporters of the new idea. Others argued that the classic uniform should stay in place, as should dress codes for lawyers and other professions.
What do flight attendants think of the new uniform?
26-year-old SkyUp flight attendant Maryna Zaburanna says the new uniform is “very cool”.
“I love free-cut suits and I like to wear them everyday. So when I found out that we would have the same costumes at work, I was really happy. After all, it has an elegant, comfortable fit and a shiny look, ”says Maryna.
“On average, we spend 6 to 12 hours a day on board, so a comfortable uniform is an extremely important part of the job for us. Shoes, even with heels, are of course beautiful, but it is not comfortable to stay in such shoes for a long time.
“The world is changing and we are changing,” she adds.
Some cabin crew members are not that enthusiastic though.
Ines de la Fuentes is another 26-year-old flight attendant who worked for a Middle Eastern airline for almost two years until she was laid off in 2020 due to the COVID-pandemic. 19. She explains that on flights, she had to choose from the following formal shoe options: high heels, mid heels and flat.
“The latter two are very comfortable to use during service duties. However, a female crew member cannot use the flats unless she is doing service-related tasks on board. For boarding and disembarking clients, a crew member would have her high or medium heel and later, after take off, she would put on her more comfortable shoes, ”explains Ines.
Wearing different types of footwear while on duty is also required for safety reasons in an emergency.
But despite all this, Inès liked to wear her medium heels.
“Mid heels have always felt very comfortable to me personally, so I’ve never tried the crew flats. Therefore, I don’t think such uniform changes are necessary as I liked to wear my iconic red heels, ”she says.
“I think the typical uniform is definitely a trademark and part of the glamor and mystery that surrounds the aviation industry and its employees.”
“The pilot’s uniform is also very symbolic and no one would think of changing it. This is what makes our jobs so special, ”adds Ines.
Are heels more “feminine”?
Kim Wijnands, 28, who has worked as a flight attendant for TUI and Corendon Dutch Airlines, admits that even when heels look classy with the uniform, they aren’t always comfortable.
“You can imagine that if you have a long service and you have to change from service shoes to your high heels at the end of the flight, when you get off the plane, your feet don’t like it too much. part of the job. No pain, no gain, “Kim says.
“Although the uniform will be adjusted to be very comfortable and modern, in my opinion it will not be stylish. Heels also look more feminine, they exude class and a kind of status,” she continues. .
“For long-haul flights, I won’t deny that it would be such a relief for your toes to wear sneakers, but I think the crew won’t look great,” she said.
As for the uniform itself, Kim concedes that sometimes your “tights pinch your stomach” at the end of the flight, so looser, more comfortable clothing would be preferable.
“If they can make them so stylish, secure and representative, I should say a big yes. But for sneakers, I should say a big no,” she says.
What about “sports” uniforms?
Kateryna Kovalchuk, who worked as a cabin crew for almost six years in the Middle East, says that during her career she has experienced a change of uniform and footwear.
The problem was, her new costume didn’t allow for easy movement and the shoes, despite their low heels, were still painful to wear.
“Eventually it got better with other changes later, but we all understood how crucial it is to have comfortable shoes and all the uniform in this job for all kinds of flights,” Kateryna explains. .
For Kateryna, a sportier alternative would be the best option.
“Today, as athleisure is a trend, we can safely assume that a uniform can be stylish and comfortable at the same time,” she says.
“Personally, I’m all for these changes because it’s healthier and less tiring to wear sports clothes and comfortable shoes if you have to stand and walk a lot.
“It would definitely be a big plus if the flight attendants had a choice.”