Japanese Women Push Back the Ban on Wearing Glasses to Work

Glasses or Contact lenses? It’s a personal choice, right? No, not in Japan, particularly if you are a professional woman because many companies are banning women from wearing glasses to work, they are only allowed to wear contact lenses. Imagine having an eye infection and having to wear contacts! However, this rule does not apply to men and is one among many of the sexist rules at work that Japanese women are being forced to comply with. In response to this, thousands of women took to their social media handles and the streets to protest this clear cut discrimination against women and the Japanese corporates who are forcefully putting women into a box of traditional conventional beauty.

Employers are saying that glasses make employees look cold

Citing that glasses give clients a cold impression when women sport them, other companies are saying that glasses impede people’s ability to do their job properly, which could create safety concerns, many organizations are going to all lengths to defend the ban on wearing glasses. Similarly, restaurants also suggested that women wearing glasses can clash with traditional outfits like the Kimono which some employees wear during work hours. Banri Yanagi, a 40-year-old sales associate from Tokyo, told the Japan Times, “The emphasis on appearance is often on young women and wanting them to look feminine. It’s strange to allow men to wear glasses but not women.” If wearing glasses is a safety hazard, then it should be uniformly banned, not just for women. Moreover, employers are saying that glasses also make employees look cold and unfeminine, so it’s best that women avid it all together. But, why are men allowed to wear glasses?

Women have a very narrow set of rules when it comes to dress codes

This isn’t the first time Japan made waves for its sexist dress codes; in June over 20,000 women signed a petition to protest the rule that women should only wear high heels at work. Also, the ‘KuToo’ hashtag ensured that Japanese women took to social media to let the world know how sexist local workplaces can be. According to a Business Insider Japan survey, women have a very narrow set of rules when it comes to professional dress codes. Many women employees have even gone to the extent of signing up for laser surgery to eliminate the need for glasses and contact lense, while others have gone for hair removal and skin-lightening treatments to ensure that they look the part when it comes to the workplace. One woman also revealed how she was reprimanded for wearing a small set of false eyelashes to work and for showing up make up free. “I was taken aback at the start. but I quickly adjusted to it. Society’s gaze toward women numbs your senses. I was told it would help boost sales, it would make me more convincing and I accepted it. I was a nurse but felt like I was being asked to be a sort of a doll.” That’s the problem.

Image credit: Ibex News 24

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