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It’s 2019, so why are companies telling female employees they can’t wear glasses?

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Restrictive beauty standards in Japan have led to some workplaces implementing a ban on spectacles, forcing women to wear contact lenses instead. This is how those women are fighting back.

In Japan, it’s called #KuToo.

A play on #MeToo, #KuToo is the hashtag used by women protesting the nation’s prescriptive beauty standards that force them to go above and beyond to adhere to the male gaze. In March, the hashtag was used to fight back against bosses that forced women to wear makeup to the office.

The hashtag was originally created to protest against companies that regulate the heel height of their female employee’s shoes. (Many businesses have enshrined into their contracts that women must wear high heels between five and seven centimetres to the office, even if they are on their feet all day.) #KuToo is a combination of kutsu, the Japanese word for shoe, and kutsuu, the Japanese word for pain. 

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Now, though, it’s being used for a new cause: women fighting for their right to wear glasses.

Women in Japan are being forced to protest for their right to wear glasses to work.

Japanese women are using social media to push back against employers demanding that they wear contact lenses at work. Several women have shared posts on Twitter after a report on Japanese television network Nippon detailing the outdated regulations. 

Some women – because it is only women that these rules apply to, not men – were forced to wear contact lenses, despite having painful eye infections. Another woman explained that her boss told her that glasses were not “appealing” to customers.

“The emphasis on appearance is often on young women and wanting them to look feminine,” one 40-year-old woman in Tokyo said, according to Bloomberg. “It’s strange to allow men to wear glasses but not women.”

“These are rules that are out of date,” wrote one Twitter user. Another called the regulations “idiotic”. 

Some of the posts fighting back against the glasses ban on Twitter have garnered more than 25,000 retweets, while ‘glasses are forbidden’ was trending throughout the social media platform in Japan yesterday. 

Women should have the right to wear glasses.

For Yumi Ishikawa, the Japanese actor who spearheaded the #KuToo movement in regards to the high heel regulations earlier this year, the glasses ban is yet another example of how beauty standards impinge on the freedom of Japanese women.

“If wearing glasses is a real problem at work it should be banned for everyone – men and women,” Ishikawa told Bloomberg. “This problem with glasses is the exact same as high heels. It’s only a rule for female workers.”

Japan isn’t the only country where women are forced to endure appallingly sexist discrimination in the workplace. Earlier this year a Russian company offered its female employees a cash bonus for coming to work in a short skirt.

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“Many women automatically wear trousers to work, which is why we hope that our campaign will raise our ladies’ awareness, allowing them to feel their femininity and charm when they make the choice of wearing a skirt or dress,” a release from the company said. Such a move would not only make the women “feel their femininity and charm”, but it would be a morale boost for the male employees, too.

It will come as no surprise to you, dear female reader, to learn that the idea for the iniatitive came directly from the charming mind of Tatprof’s male CEO, a man by the name of Sergei Rachkov.

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“He really wants to maintain the female essence in every female employee of the company,” Anastasia Kirillova, a Tatprof employee, explained. “So that young women do not have male haircuts, do not change into trousers, so that they engage themselves in handicraft, project all their warmth into raising children.”

So women can’t wear trousers to work, they can’t wear glasses and they have to wear high heels. Seems fair. Seems fantastic! Stop the world, we want to get off. 

Images: Unsplash

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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