'Glasses ban' in some workplaces have women in Japan seeing red
Eyeglasses are pictured in this stock photo. Companies in Japan reportedly banning female employees from wearing glasses is sparking outrage and debate on social media.
Published Friday, November 8, 2019 7:16PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 8, 2019 10:32PM EST
TORONTO — Companies in Japan reportedly banning female employees from wearing glasses is sparking fresh outrage and debate on social media over the country’s stringent workplace dress-code practices that specifically target women.
Nippon TV reported that various companies banned eyewear for females for various reasons, including airlines that cited safety in emergency situations, retailers who said glasses made a “cold impression,” and traditional restaurants who felt the eyewear did not look good with kimonos.
Many social media users reacted with disbelief. “Wait....WHAT?!? Hang on while I check the article's date for the year... and the century,” one Twitter user said.
“Japanese companies making a spectacle of themselves,” another user tweeted.
In South Korea, where women wearing glasses at work is relatively uncommon in many industries, a similar discussion erupted last year after a female news anchor decided one day to wear glasses on air.
The latest workplace controversy in Japan follows backlash earlier this year over corporate dress codes that included requiring women to wear makeup and high heels to work.
At the time, then-Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Takumi Nemoto defended the policies, according to Kyodo News: "It's generally accepted by society that (wearing high heels) is necessary and reasonable in workplaces."
The Japanese hashtag #メガネ禁止 or “glasses ban” began trending on Wednesday as Japanese women fought back, while foreign media pick-up of the hot-button issue drew fresh international reaction.
“So now the women must wear dresses/skirts, heels, makeup, hose AND be blind without glasses. All so the men have someone more appealing (to them) to look at??” one Twitter user asked.
One woman claimed she had to wear contact lenses for work while recovering from conjunctivitis, while another shared an anecdote where she brought a pair of sample glasses specially made for a bridal kimono to a clothing rental company for promotion and was told “no glasses allowed for wedding kimono.”
A Twitter post that showed a set of photos too blurry to identify had more than 42.9K likes and 25K retweets, with the poster saying they could not live without glasses and called it a life-protecting medical instrument.
Another comment that garnered at least 2,500 likes and 1,500 retweets said: “There are those who are not able to wear contact lenses for health reasons, so they are not able to get these jobs? Why just women? That is discrimination. And a violation of human rights.”