Air India has deemed 130 of its cabin crew “permanently unfit” to fly after the staff failed to lose weight for their job.
India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation issued fitness guidelines stating that female cabin crew with a body mass index (BMI) of 18 to 22 are “normal” and male cabin crew with a BMI between 18 to 25 as "normal," but anywhere above those numbers staff would be deemed “overweight” or “obese.”
With the policies in mind, last year Air India declared 600 employees “temporarily unfit” to fly and required them to lose weight in six months.
Out of these 600, 130 failed the assessment and have now been deemed “permanently unfit for their job as flight attendants.”
The crew will either be reassigned or “offered voluntarily retirement,” according to the Hindustan Times.
"These employees have already availed 18 months time to meet the required BMI but failed to do so, leaving with us with no choice but to replace them," an airline spokesperson said.
The airline argues fitness is a necessary qualification for the job so following with these stringent guidelines is crucial.
“People who are fitter can respond quicker and more efficiently in case of any untoward situation," an Air India official said.
Yet this imperative is a clear epitome of fat-shaming. Not only has mainstream culture humiliated bigger bodies as ugly and unworthy, but our societal beauty standards have breached from our personal lives into the workplace with disheartening results as people are threatened unemployment because of their size.
Even beyond the fact that weight gain is a health condition and a struggle so many wrestle with every day, this disrespectful assertion is discriminatory. As the body-positive movement explodes online, we can only hope that the idea all bodies are beautiful and worthy of acceptance will extend to all facets of our society.