The continuous over-sexulisation women face in society is sickening and must end. 21-year-old Emily O’Connor was supposedly targeted by Thomas Cook Airlines for wearing a crop top after boarding the airline’s plane from Birmingham to Tenerife on 2 March.

Some critics called the top a ‘bralette.’ Four flight attendants, along with the flight manager, deemed the top inappropriate and threatened to remove O’Connor from the aircraft if she didn’t cover up.

“They made comments over the speaker about the situation and left me shaking and upset,” O’Connor said.

The airline, among many others, has an attire policy and warns passengers they will not be permitted to travel if their clothing violates the rules. A male flight attendant showed her the regulations in the inflight magazine, which condemns inappropriate apparel, including offensive images and language. O’Connor decided to ask the passengers who witnessed the altercation if her top was either inappropriate or offensive and offered to cover up if it did. She was met with silence from the passengers.

The airline staff allowed O’Connor to stay on the plane after her cousin gave her a jacket. The flight crew did not leave until she put it on in front of them.

O’Connor recalled the incident on Twitter and the Today Show and further denounced Thomas Cook for not confronting a male passenger who shouted at her to put on a jacket and called her pathetic because the flight didn’t depart on time.

Also, she revealed the flight’s staff did not approach another male passenger wearing a vest top with shorts. Thomas Cook Airlines decided to apologize to O’Connor after she publicly addressed the altercation on social media. The airline claimed the policy applies equally to both genders and admitted their crew sometimes make mistakes when implementing the airline’s dress code.

This incident is infuriating, but unfortunately not surprising, as the female body has always been sexualized in modern society. I understand there’s a time and place to dress a certain way, but no woman should be chastised for wearing a crop top or bralette on a plane. If O’Connor revealing skin makes someone uncomfortable, it’s their problem, not hers. Female passengers shouldn’t have to second-guess if their outfit is appropriate for a plane ride they paid for.

I’m tired of women, specifically millennials, constantly being judged for what they wear because some feminine apparel is considered socially unacceptable by older generations. It’s appalling men can walk around shirtless without much scrutiny, while women are shamed when they reveal too much skin. Furthermore, this perpetuating injustice occurs because women are often dismissed and seen as bitter when they decide to challenge this ancient social norm.

However, the main reason this deep-rooted, double standard dress code issue still exists is because women are still hyper sexualized in the media. It’s common to see women being objectified in magazines, films and T.V. shows, as clothing items bearing too much skin are subtle tools used by businesses for profit. This causes society to paint a distorted picture of female dress etiquette by emphasizing women who show too much skin as wanting to be viewed as sexual objects.

Although female celebrities who purposely use fashion to portray a sexual image in media are not always criticized, society always shows disapproval toward ordinary women who want to wear revealing apparel they see as fashionable.

Apparently, clothes revealing women’s bare shoulders, stomach and legs are too distracting for men and disrespectful to social organisations trying to shed light on sexual assault women experience. Further, figure-hugging apparel is unlady-like and is only worn to appease or arouse men.

These conservative concepts help spark the catalyst for excuses toward more serious issues such as rape culture in which victims are frequently blamed because their inappropriate outfit choices provoke men. Similar excuses are used against women who experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, as society claims a woman’s tight fitted work outfit is unprofessional and implies they’re sexually available which causes their male colleagues to be sent the wrong message.

Clothes allow individuals to express themselves and build confidence. Society shouldn’t hinder women from showing their individuality through wearing their favourite apparel by manipulating them into thinking it doesn’t align with social norms.

I encourage women to continue wearing clothing that makes them feel good. Like men, we deserve to express ourselves unapologetically.

Image courtesy of: Wikipedia commons

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