Turkish Airline bans flight attendants from wearing red lipstick


red_lipstickTurkey’s national airline has barred flight attendants from wearing red lipstick and nail polish, triggering concerns among secular Turks that 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, etc, the use of lipstick and nail polish in these colours 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 recognised 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 labour union, said. "No one can deny that Turkey has become a more conservative, religious country."

Turkey is 99% Muslim but the Nato state and EU candidate has a secular constitution.

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

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

The flag carrier caused a stir this year when newspapers published mock-ups of an Ottoman-style uniform for women 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 along 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.

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