November 8, 2019
Women Are Banned From Wearing Glasses At Several Japanese Companies, And There's Serious Backlash

Several companies in Japan have reportedly issued bans that female employees are not allowed to wear glasses, sparking claims of sexism, reports BBC. The issue has become a point of outrage in the Asian nation, with a social media campaign against the eyewear bans have been trending on Twitter throughout the week.

The bans are a growing trend in the workplace in Japan, spanning a number of different industries and sectors. Due to its growing popularity, Business Insider Japan did a report on the issue earlier this month. However, news truly hit the mainstream after Nippon TV aired a program that discussed the problem. It is not clear whether these bans are informal requests or company policies.

Since news broke, women across the island nation have taken to Twitter, using the hashtag "glasses are forbidden."

Some tweets express outrage at what many consider to be a misogynistic double standard. Other tweets were confirmation stories about being asked not to wear the controversial eyewear, like one women who was banned from donning glassing while working at a bridal salon, or a tour guide who faced reprimands from her boss.

"I was told before when I was working as a guide. I went to work with my glasses... the boss got angry at the morning meeting... The next day was painful and I couldn't stand it, but I worked [with contacts]," tweeted another.

Many of these companies have given flimsy reasons for their ban. Those that employ retail workers have claimed that shop assistants who wear glasses give a "cold impression." A makeup store said that it believes it hinders prospective customers from properly seeing the makeup modeled on their employees. An airline has claimed that it has to do with safety, despite the fact that men do not have the same requirement.

However, many are not buying the explanations.

"The reasons why women are not supposed to wear glasses... really don't make sense. It's all about gender. It's pretty discriminatory," said Kumiko Nemoto, professor of sociology at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies.

"Women are evaluated mostly on their appearance. That's the message that these policies are sending, at least."
Professor Nemoto also said that much of the Japanese dislike of glasses is that they were considered not "feminine."

"It's not about how women do their work. The company... values the women's appearance as being feminine and that's opposite to someone who wears glasses," she explained.

person holding glasses
Unsplash | Josh Calabrese

The push against glasses for women comes at a time when many are fighting against the exacting aesthetic standards for female employees. Earlier this year, women created another social media campaign called the #KuToo movement, which lambasted the requirement that women wear high heels in the workplace.

Accusations of misogyny are not exclusive to Japan. Claims of sexism in the United States recently hit the news after MSNBC pundit Emily Sussman argued that many Bernie Sanders supporters had passed on Elizabeth Warren due to bigotry.