Japan working women glasses ban, “It gives a cold impression”.

From mandatory high heels to a ban on glasses, Japanese women have been busy pushing back against restrictive and anachronistic dress codes in the workplace in 2019.

The hashtag “glasses are forbidden” (#メガネ禁止) has been trending on social media in Japan this week following the airing of a program on the Nippon TV network exploring how companies in different sectors do not allow female employees to wear glasses on the job. The program followed a report published late last month by Business Insider Japan (link in Japanese) on the same issue.

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The program listed a number of reasons that employers gave for not wanting women to wear glasses while at work. Domestic airlines said it was for safety reasons, companies in the beauty industry said it was difficult to see the employee’s make-up properly behind glasses, while major retail chains said female shop assistants give off a “cold impression” if they wear glasses. Traditional Japanese restaurants said that glasses simply do not go well with traditional Japanese dress.

The program listed a number of reasons that employers gave for not wanting women to wear glasses while at work. Domestic airlines said it was for safety reasons, companies in the beauty industry said it was difficult to see the employee’s make-up properly behind glasses, while major retail chains said female shop assistants give off a “cold impression” if they wear glasses. Traditional Japanese restaurants said that glasses simply do not go well with traditional Japanese dress.

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The chorus of discontent against the glasses ban echoes a similar phenomenon in South Korea last year, when a female news anchor broke ranks and decided to wear glasses instead of putting on contact lenses for her early morning show. The sight of a woman wearing glasses reading the news not only shocked viewers, but also prompted a local airline to review its own policies and allow female cabin crew to wear glasses.

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Some Japanese women have been posting photos of their glasses on Twitter in response to the findings of the news reports. One user who did so after picking up a new pair of glasses wrote, “Isn’t it so troublesome when you can see all the middle-aged men in the world?”

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