Japanese Businesswomen Railing Against Bans on Wearing Glasses

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Nov 8, 2019

Japanese women are pushing back against corporate rules mandating strict adherence to certain beauty standards, such as not wearing glasses because, apparently, that makes them less appealing to customers, according to Fortune

Organizing on Twitter, women are sharing stories of their employers enforcing rules that go well beyond simple professional presentation. The campaign began following new reporting about several Japanese companies that don't allow women to wear glasses while allowing men to do so. These companies appear to be quite upfront about the fact that it's because they think it makes the women prettier, which in turn they think will make them more appealing to customers. 

This is just the latest in a series of outcries about longstanding rules on what constitutes professional dress in the workplace for Japanese women. In March, there was a similar social media campaign against companies that require women to wear makeup; earlier, author and writer Yumi Ishikawa similarly railed against requirements that women wear high-heeled shoes. 

Fortune said the government has been untroubled by these protests, and does not plan to institute any ban on such restrictive beauty requirements. On the question specifically of the requirement to wear heels, Japan's health and labor minister at the time, Takumi Nemoto, said he was perfectly fine with the status quo, opining that such rules were "occupationally necessary and appropriate." Meanwhile, Japan's former Prime Minister Taro Aso, who is currently serving as deputy prime minister and minister of finance, has made numerous headlines over the course of his political career over remarks such as “reporters who cover the Finance Ministry should be limited to men," and "there is no such thing as a sexual harassment charge," which was seen as minimizing an incident involving a high-ranking Finance Ministry bureaucrat. (He is also known for a number of Nazi-related statements that he later walked back, such as saying Hitler had good intentions, before later saying he was misunderstood)

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