United Airlines’ ‘Leggings Ban’ Is Sexual Objectification At Its Worst

United Airlines’ absurd leggings ban is just another example of how girls as young as 10 can be sexualized for their choice of clothing. It’s sickening.

Just in case you needed another reminder that we are living in an inherently sexist society that thrives on objectifying women regardless of their age, United Airlines has presented its customers — and well, the rest of the world — with a truly disgusting example.

Twitter user and anti-gun violence activist Shannon Watts sparked a firestorm when she witnessed a gate attendant at the Denver International Airport, Colorado, forbidding three female passengers from boarding the flight to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and decided to share the outrageous scene with her social media followers.

The reason: The girls — at least one of who was as young as 10 — were all wearing leggings.

How scandalous, right? I mean, who gave women the right to dress as they please?

The passengers were told to either change their clothes or put something on to cover themselves, because God forbid someone on the plane saw a female child’s legging-clad legs.

Ultimately, the young girl was forced to put on a dress she was carrying in her bag.

It is also to be noted the girl’s father was allowed to board the plane wearing shorts, which shows much more skin than a pair of leggings.

The first question that comes to mind is since when do airlines follow a strict dress code? Aren’t people supposed to travel in their coziest outfits, because, you know, comfort.

Secondly, who in the world gave that gate agent a right to treat those two women and a child like sexual objects?

It was sick, it was demeaning and it was most certainly not OK under any circumstances.

However, instead of apologizing and looking into the matter, the United Airlines responded by sending out a tone-deaf tweet, siding with its employee.

They claim the affected passengers were pass riders.

For those unaware, a “pass rider” is a traveler who either works for the air carrier or is related to an employee. They usually fly on discounted ticket.

The airline directed people to Rule 21 in its Contract of Carriage, insisting such passengers are held to a standard of dress because they “are representing UA when they fly.”

As if the argument was not absurd enough, it was also quite misleading considering the only time the rule outlining “refusal of transport” talks about clothing is under its “safety” section and even then, leggings are not mentioned anywhere.

Another dress code found online seems to only target women, as it forbids “form-fitting lycra/spandex tops, pants and dresses” and “attire that is provocative, inappropriately revealing or see-through.”

So, if it is up to a gate agent’s discretion to identify an item of clothing as “improper,” does that mean the United Airlines staffer in this particular incident sexualized a child’s body because she was wearing a form-fitting article of clothing?

No matter how you look at it, it is just appalling.

Social media users, including celebrities, were quick to call the airline out on its misogynistic policies.

People were also quick to point out that United Airlines itself ran ad campaigns featuring women in leggings.

There were also some other very valid concerns:

Meanwhile, the airline maintains its sexist policies are only meant for the employees and pass riders.

“All employees and pass riders are considered representatives of United. And like most companies, we have a dress code that we ask employees and pass riders to follow. The passengers this morning were United pass riders and not in compliance with our dress code for company benefit travel,” an Untied Airlines spokesperson told Jalopnik. “To our regular customers, your leggings are welcome.”

Unfortunately for the company, their non-apology apology might be a little too late.

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Louis Nastro 

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