United Airlines is sexist! It specifically targets women and even policies what children wear. According to the company, females wearing leggings are inappropriate but men wearing shorts are not.
Or at least that’s what the internet wants you to think.
Twitter users have run with this conclusion since Shannon Watts tweeted about an incident where a ten-year-old girl was made to put on a dress and two other teenage girls were barred from flying because they were wearing opaque leggings.
Watts criticized United for this action especially since their father was wearing shorts that were two to three inches above his knee but was allowed to board the plane.
Another Twitter user, Patricia Arquette, further critiqued United by saying “leggings are business attire for 10-year-olds. Their business is being children.”
It was later revealed that the individuals were using buddy passes, which are passes guests of airline employees get access to. The lack of this crucial piece of information led to people speaking out against United.
Well-known news outlets like The Washington Post crafted headlines such as “Two girls barred from United flight for wearing leggings,” further igniting public outrage.
Most people tend to base their opinions solely on headlines and don’t bother reading further into articles. Once it was revealed that the family was taking advantage of the buddy pass program, people failed to take that into consideration.
Having a buddy pass means that the family either bought their tickets at a greatly reduced price or they flew for free. On any airline, these passengers are held to a different standard than regular paying customers because they are deemed representatives of the company.
These types of passengers are made aware that they have to adhere to stricter dress codes and guidelines in a contract.
United Airlines specifically states that spandex clothing is inappropriate and shorts are appropriate as long as the shorts are no more than three inches above the knee. People can attack United for this policy all they want, but other airlines have similar policies.
Alaska Airlines prohibits exercise clothing, American Airlines bans sleepwear and clothing that is “overly revealing.” Delta Airlines chimed in on the United scandal as well. The company tweeted that “Delta means comfort” and notes that its passengers may wear leggings, but still prohibits sleepwear.
With these policies, females wearing leggings can be prohibited from flying since leggings can be seen as exercise clothing, sleepwear or “overly revealing.”
As for policing what children wear, let’s remember that our school systems do this every day. Countless cases are brought up about female students being told that their clothing is inappropriate. Most girls cannot even wear a tank top without being told that their appearance is unacceptable.
Even the Pinellas County School Board mandates that all tops must cover the shoulders and clothing like spandex are not allowed “unless proper outer garments cover it.”
I believe that this is an issue greater than any airline. This is an issue about society. Society needs to redefine what’s appropriate for females to wear. Especially since leggings are now seen as normal, casual wear.
Our society also has a tendency to sexualize women and youth, especially in the media. TV shows like “Toddlers & Tiaras,” and commercials like the Three-Way burger from Carl’s Jr. help to perpetuate the sexualization of young girls and women.
To stop future incidents like this from happening, our culture needs to be reevaluated. We need to stop sexualizing youth and promoting that sexualization through advertisements and social media. We also need to stop with sexualizing female’s clothing. Women of any age should not be told that opaque leggings are inappropriate.
So, can we really blame United for perpetuating part of the general American culture?