Secular Turks see red over airline’s lipstick ban

Flickr user:  sholeh!!
Flickr user: sholeh!!

Turkey’s national airline has barred female flight attendants from wearing red lipstick and nail polish, striking a nerve among secular Turks worried the country is becoming more Islamic.

Turkish Airlines, Europe’s fourth-biggest carrier, said the ban was aimed at keeping crews “artless and well-groomed with makeup in pastel tones”, as a natural look improved communication with passengers.

“As a consequence of our current cabin uniforms not including red, dark pink, et cetera, the use of lipstick and nail polish in these colors by our cabin crew impairs visual integrity,” the statement said.

Turkish Airlines declined a request for further comment.

The guideline follows other restrictions on employees’ appearance and on serving alcohol. Critics say they reflect the influence of the government’s conservative religious values at the fast-growing state-run airline, one of Turkey’s most recognized brands.

“This new guideline is totally down to Turkish Airlines management’s desire to shape the company to fit its own political and ideological stance,” Atilay Aycin, president of the airline’s Hava-Is labor union, told Reuters.

“No one can deny that Turkey has become a more conservative, religious country.”

Turkey is 99 percent Muslim but the NATO state and European Union candidate has a secular constitution.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, which traces its roots to a banned Islamic party, has relaxed the state’s control over the expression of religion, such as once-strict limits imposed on wearing the Islamic-style headscarf.

Such restrictions were aimed at reining in Islamism and improving women’s rights, but effectively prevented many devout women from studying at university or taking government jobs.

Turkish Airlines scrapped its own ban on the headscarf more than a year ago, and covered women now work at check-in counters and at other positions in the company, Aycin said.

Other Turkish carriers also have guidelines on the appearance of cabin personnel.

HIDDEN AGENDA?

The flag carrier caused a stir earlier this year when newspapers published mockups of a new Ottoman-style uniform for stewardesses with ankle-length dresses, a proposal the airline’s management appears to have since abandoned.

That was followed by a ban on alcohol on planes flying to most domestic destinations and some Islamic countries.

“They are objecting to the lipstick and nail polish that we have been using for years,” said Asli Gokmen, 30, a flight attendant who lost her job with more than 300 others last year during a union protest and is petitioning for her position back.

No current employees were available for comment.

Turks worried the government is undermining the country’s secular order see a hidden agenda.

On Twitter, women posted pictures after applying red lipstick. One wrote: “Why not just ban stewardesses altogether so we can all breathe a sigh of relief?”

Some male Twitter users were indignant over the insinuation that red lipstick would induce a sexual frenzy.

Turkish Airlines passenger Ahmet Yerli, 33, said he did not think the new guideline was a sign of creeping Islamization but that the ban was still “absurd.”

“I’ve never heard of a plane crashing because of a women’s lipstick,” he said before his flight.

(Additional reporting by Omer Berberoglu; Editing by Nick Tattersall, John Stonestreet)


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

News

Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

NHL

Rangers draw first blood against Flyers in Game…

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.