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Japanese women fight for right to wear glasses to work

53 Comments
By Beh Lih Yi

Japanese women have taken to Twitter to demand the right to wear glasses to work after reports employers were imposing bans, in the latest social media outcry against rigid rules on women's appearance.

The hashtag "glasses are forbidden" has been trending after a Japanese television show exposed businesses that were imposing bans on female staff.

"These are rules that are out of date," one Twitter user posted under the hashtag, while another called the reasons given by employers "idiotic".

One woman who works in restaurants tweeted that she was repeatedly told not to wear her glasses because it would appear"rude" and they did not go with the traditional kimono she wore.

The tweet, posted under the handle @wine_kimono last month, has since been shared nearly 13,000 times.

"If the rules prohibit only women to wear glasses, this is a discrimination against women," Kanae Doi, the Japan director at global advocacy group Human Rights Watch, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Friday.

The latest outcry came after a campaign earlier this year that demanded Japanese companies stop forcing their female staff to wear high heels to work.

More than 21,000 people signed an online petition started by a Japanese actress earlier this year that called for a ban on compulsory high heels at work, in what has been known as the#KuToo movement.

In response, a Japanese minister said dress code expectations were "necessary and appropriate" in the workplace.

Japan was ranked 110 out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum's latest Global Gender Gap report, well behind other developed countries.

© Thomson Reuters Foundation

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

53 Comments
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if one can't wear contacts lens then will be out of job? unbelievable!

15 ( +20 / -5 )

I wonder just exactly what businesses this is talking about and the TV show was a Japanese program shown in Kuala Lumpur?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am pretty sure someone here is going to start searching for what program this was, but I am willing to bet that if it was a program from Malayasia the intent was to make things look bad for women in Japan.

I will also bet it was one of those variety programs that MAKES their own stories up to fit the point they want to make too!

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

It was discussed on a Japanese news program I happened to see. Quite a few Japanese companies have this rule, it seems.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Cant believe this is a thing

15 ( +15 / -0 )

These are rules that are out of date," one Twitter user posted under the hashtag, while another called the reasons given by employers "idiotic".

Agreed...this is one of the stupidest " rules" I have ever heard of.....bet the idiot oyajis that came up with this, wear glasses.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

So how is it that this ban on wearing glasses at work is only applied to women?

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Bizarre and sexist insulting. Must not wear glasses must wear high heels.

19 ( +19 / -0 )

As per usual details are lacking, something the usual crowd here never seem to take into account.

What businesses are restricting glasses for women? Just one such business in this case, hardly representative of all Japan. And such businesses are perfectly within their rights to dictate uniform code as they see fit.

Another sensationalist fluff piece to make Japan look bad.

-14 ( +4 / -18 )

if one can't wear contacts lens then will be out of job? unbelievable

Uh... did you read the article?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

World Economic Forum's latest Global Gender Gap report

It’s interesting to note that this report did not include any of the following words:

”cis”

”queer”

”bi”

I’m going to rate this report: CREDIBLE.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Another sensationalist fluff piece to make Japan look bad.

Well stated, old man. This "story" by Reuters seems to be yet another beat up to attack and bully Japan in world media. Its unfair. It seem like "fake news". Many women in Japan wear glasses.

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

Don't forget that some of the people judging these women's appearances will be other women. As with the funeral company whose policy who led to the 5cm heels movement, some of the customers they are trying to please or the managers laying down their own laws will be women. You cannot blame this exclusively on men.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Another disgusting case of female oppression in Japan. This is actually the first time I’ve heard of this one.

Do Japanese people ever grow tired of being told what to do?

5 ( +9 / -4 )

61% of the people need glasses.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

When I read this article, I had two immediate thoughts:

-- there are definitely companies / establishments that would have these rules, particularly in certain industries.

-- that said, I would be surprised if it is as widespread as, say, restrictions on women wearing high heels to work.

We all know that Japan has rigid rules on dress and appearance and it starts at a very young age in schools. And it is not just for females, but it is for males as well. I am not saying that the traditional male and female genders are treated equally in this respect, but it is not just confined to restriction on dress and appearance for females in the workplace.

Witness the traditional prohibitions against facial hair for males in many companies. Or for ponytails. Or for any sort of ear accessory. And, of course, the proverbial restrictions around hair coloring and hairstyles.

In the case of restrictions on females wearing eyeglasses, I see females with eyeglasses in virtually every company or establishment I visit or see.

Two industries / jobs that are exceptions: flight attendants and TV announcers / hosts. I believe with the former, there may be an issue around safety. However, in the case of the latter, I am pretty certain that has something to do with viewer appeal. Or something.

An interesting article, but probably not the huge issue in Japan that many other restrictions on female dress / appearance are.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I've seen some horrendously ugly glasses at work, but taste in eye wear is highly subjective.

Everyone should be able to see as well as possible when working, if that is their choice.

I wear both contact lenses AND reading glasses at this stage of my life. No way could I function without both.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Ganbare Japan!Today 08:23 am JST

Another sensationalist fluff piece to make Japan look bad.

Well stated, old man. This "story" by Reuters seems to be yet another beat up to attack and bully Japan in world media. Its unfair. It seem like "fake news". Many women in Japan wear glasses.

Ganbare - the article is not about the millions of women who wear glasses in Japan.

It's about women who are employed in more traditional businesses, esp hospitality, that requires them to wear kimonos. As women didn't wear glasses 100+ years ago, the men (I assume men) who make these rules, believe glass-less kimono clad staff somehow adds to the authenticity of the experience.

And of course this doesn't affect a large % of the workforce as there are relatively few kimono wearing openings compared to non-kimono wearing occupations.

In these businesses I'm sure it's quite prevalent. Ever seen a Maiko-san wearing glasses?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

oldman_13Today 08:14 am JST

As per usual details are lacking, something the usual crowd here never seem to take into account.

What businesses are restricting glasses for women?

The woman quoted in the article works at a kaiseki restaurant. She says that a lot of businesses that have kimono as part of the dress code are banning glasses because they think glasses do not match kimono.

Just one such business in this case, hardly representative of all Japan. And such businesses are perfectly within their rights to dictate uniform code as they see fit.

The point isn't that they have the right to dictate a uniform dress code. The point is the sexism inherent in banning glasses for women and not for men, not the mention the draconian nature of the rule. Asking employees to wear a uniform is one thing, but forcing them to wear contact lenses is entirely another. Some people get really sore eyes, sometimes you get infections, and contacts are outrageously expensive. It's nonsensical, potentially harmful, and sexist all at the same time.

Another sensationalist fluff piece to make Japan look bad.

Yes, it does make Japan look bad - and in this case, it is well-deserved.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Bugle Boy of Company BToday 08:17 am JST

World Economic Forum's latest Global Gender Gap report

It’s interesting to note that this report did not include any of the following words:

”cis”

”queer”

”bi”

I’m going to rate this report: CREDIBLE.

Because mentions of sexual orientation immediately make any article not credible? You've lost us here.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Until a decade ago, wearing a pair of eyeglasses was considered a discomfort by Japanese women so they shifted to wearing contact lenses instead, in addition to 'being in a Fad' at that moment. However many had suffered from eye infections. And according to studies, wearing contact lenses all day can destroy eyesight  A general advice was released to avoid wearing contacts for more than eight hours a day. Since then, women in Japan in particular or the Japanese women in the broad sense gradually adopted the use of eyeglasses. They learned to embrace discomfort over possible eye infections. Maybe the fashion in Malaysia calls for the ban on wearing eyeglasses at work places but prescription eyeglasses are like medications and are safe alternatives than contact lenses. The employers in Kuala Lumpur, either Malaysians, Japanese or any nationalities should be aware of the safety and health implications of their imposed ban.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

.....plus a whole raft of rules and regulations by many companies (even including combini and hamburger joints) with regard to: no nailpolish, no lipstick, no pierced ears, max 3mm diameter studs, nails no longer than x, and etc and etc..... Edo rules rule OK?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Little wonder more women have been leaving the workplace and/or choosing to remain single. The hashtag “glasses are forbidden” (#メガネ禁止) has been trending in Japan since Wednesday.

“Isn’t it so troublesome when you can see all the middle-aged men in the world?” someone wrote on Twitter under the hashtag after tweeting out a picture of her new glasses.

There don’t appear to be any official numbers on how widespread the bans are. “It was not clear whether the so-called ‘bans’ were based on company policies, or rather reflected what was socially accepted practice in those workplaces,” the BBC reported.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/11/08/women-japan-were-told-not-wear-glasses-work-their-response-has-been-fiery/#comments-wrapper

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"I will also bet it was one of those variety programs that MAKES their own stories up to fit the point they want to make too!"

You mean like all those NHK documentaries made at public expense over the past few decades that purposefully misportrayed foreign countries and cultures while implicitly extolling the superiority of Japan? Pot, meet kettle.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

As always Japan is wasting time not important things.

All this nonsense rules just to look good from the outside.

but inside most of them are bad workers.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

And what about all those people who cannot even get lenses in Japan? Since about 10 years ago when all those disposable lenses came out, the custom made ones got taken off the shelf. Someone high above decided that contact lenses are only available until -10. So, if you have more like I do and a situation that does not allow you to see clearly with glasses, well sorry as my eye doc told me, get used to no longer seeing. I really wished something would be done for all the other people suffering from this condition. We pay enough healthcare insurance as it is for getting nothing. I had to go abroad to get them made although the same companies have offices in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Amazing.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I've never heard of a glasses ban. Women are wearing glasses everywhere I go.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Ridiculous.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

2019 or 1919?

What a time warp Japan can be sometimes.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Agreed...this is one of the stupidest " rules" I have ever heard of.....bet the idiot oyajis that came up with this, wear glasses.

I bet it was a female boss that came up with the rule.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Reading this article. I'm still trying to figure out if this is a satirical piece or a real article. Are there really employers that say you can't wear glasses? Wearing glasses appear rude? I can only laugh in disbelief at this article.

Lol. The rules that make no sense.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

therougouToday 12:02 pm JST

I bet it was a female boss that came up with the rule.

Considering that the vast majority of business owners and managers in Japan are men, I highly doubt that.

However, it is quite true that women can also be misogynists.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

It would seem that some Japanese male bosses need to be dragged into the 21st century. Even if they kick and scream, sanity must prevail. Women are men are equal and those in Japan who are not yet comfortable with that need to change their outdated attitudes. Women are not servants, less important, or to be discriminated against.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Yaurbu

So Let me ask you this? Are things perfect for women in the workplace in Japan?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It’s not just glasses. Color contacts are also not allowed in traditional companies.

They still need to make a rule forbidding salarymen from wearing white socks with suits.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The most backward of all so called first world countries. I'm glad women are finally raising voices.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

To all ladies: Just go to work wearing your glasses and if anyone tells you you can’t, politely tell them to F-off.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I'd rather be served by someone wearing cola bottle glasses than by someone splashing boiling hot water everywhere because she can't see where she's going.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

These made up rules should be a challenge to the people in Japan to avoid-I find that ignoring them to be the most effective.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I'd rather be served by someone wearing cola bottle glasses than by someone splashing boiling hot water everywhere because she can't see where she's going.

There are things called contacts.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Because mentions of sexual orientation immediately make any article not credible? You've lost us here.

I’ll type slowly so you’re sure to understand. The fact that a study with gender in the title made no mention other than “men” or “women” is the key point here. Refreshing and rational.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

I'd rather be served by someone wearing cola bottle glasses than by someone splashing boiling hot water everywhere because she can't see where she's going.

I’d rather she just wore contacts like any intelligent person would do.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

I really thought that the huge ad at the top of the page was saying FREE JAPANESE GLASSES.

Maybe I need reading glasses.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Two industries / jobs that are exceptions: flight attendants and TV announcers / hosts. I believe with the former, there may be an issue around safety. However, in the case of the latter, I am pretty certain that has something to do with viewer appeal. Or something.

The latter is more likely due to the studio lighting glaring off of the lenses into the cameras.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I've never heard of a glasses ban. Women are wearing glasses everywhere I go

Well then. It must not exist.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The most backward of all so called first world countries. I'm glad women are finally raising voices.

Lol, there are dress-codes all over the world. Depends on the company. Mine is a Japanese company but is very casual.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Bugle Boy of Company BNov. 9  03:34 pm JST

I’ll type slowly so you’re sure to understand. The fact that a study with gender in the title made no mention other than “men” or “women” is the key point here. Refreshing and rational.

Typing slowly doesn’t change nonsense into sense.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

My first thought was what industry are these women working in? It seems most of these complaints come from women who work in industries where presentable physical appearances is very important, i.e., hospitality, entertainment, television, restaurant, etc.

They knew that going into the that kind of job. If they have to have vision corrected, why don't they wear contact lens? On the other hand, if they can't wear contact lenses or prefer not to, then perhaps they ought to work in jobs that are not as presentable appearance demanding.

Are women working in business, education, technical, medical, government, etc., also complaining that their employers are prohibiting them from wearing glasses?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I don't understand the logic behind the argument (direct and implied) that as this doesn't affect women in all jobs across the board, it isn't worthy of attention or change.

Workers' rights are important, especially where their health and finances are concerned - and companies insisting on women wearing something for no reason other than " 'cos we thinks you looks pretty that's why" is an infringement of those rights.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And what about all those people who cannot even get lenses in Japan? Since about 10 years ago when all those disposable lenses came out, the custom made ones got taken off the shelf. Someone high above decided that contact lenses are only available until -10. So, if you have more like I do and a situation that does not allow you to see clearly with glasses, well sorry as my eye doc told me, get used to no longer seeing. I really wished something would be done for all the other people suffering from this condition. We pay enough healthcare insurance as it is for getting nothing. I had to go abroad to get them made although the same companies have offices in Japan.

That sounds very surprising. I wear contacts from the brand called 1daypure. These are one−day disposable lenses, but they go up to -16.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This seriously pisses me off. I hope this is only in Japan, and I hope this ridiculous policy is stopped immediately and those responsible for it FIRED!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It was discussed on a Japanese news program I happened to see. Quite a few Japanese companies have this rule, it seems

wow Ive never heard this one. where are all the elites who visit and praise Japan at? guess they are, once again, ignorant, unaware, or dont care. All I ever see from CNN reporters is adoring praise. Seems they dont really work here or too busy bashing Trump.

What a draconian, sexist rule.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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