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EDITORIAL: United Airlines should have let it fly

Barring 2 girls from boarding flight because of leggings is wrong


Some people have argued over whether wearing leggings as pants is a fashion-do or a fashion-don’t. But recently, that is not the only debate these bottoms have been involved in. Aside from trying to claim leggings as a fashion faux-pas, United Airlines has come under fire for categorizing leggings as inappropriate clothing.

The incident occurred when two young girls and their father were attempting to board a flight to Minneapolis from the Denver International Airport (DEN). This family was “pass travelers,” which are passengers whose family members work in the airlines.

When word of this incident got out, celebrities and samaritans alike took to social media to confront United Airlines about their decision to bar these girls from boarding a flight and forcing them to wear dresses over their leggings.

Chrissy Teigen, among the angry voices, stated that she had previously boarded a United Airlines flight with barely any clothing on.

Now, when people began to speak out against United Airlines, they responded to people’s discontent. But they did not apologize. Instead, United Airlines stood their ground.

Their justification seemed reasonable at first read. Pass travelers receive reduced or free flights that are on standby because they are related to employees of the airlines. But because pass travelers are affiliated with the airlines directly, they have certain rules and guidelines that they must follow and adhere to. One of these rules is that “no inappropriate clothing” is allowed on the flight. Seems reasonable right?

Not exactly.

Of the two girls that were traveling, one was a teenager and the other a 10-year-old girl. Saying that girls this young should not wear clothing that is essentially “too tight” is creating an uncomfortable conversation where a girl, a minor, is being oversexualized. Does United Airlines expect a 10-year-old girl to forfeit clothing of comfort simply because they are sexualizing it?

Now some may say that this is reading too much into their statement and they have every right to dictate what they deem is inappropriate clothing. These same people would probably argue that because leggings are unprofessional, i.e. one would not wear them to a job interview or professional setting, they should definitely be banned from the airlines, at least for pass travelers.

There are a few problems with this logic. There is a difference between appropriate clothing and professional clothing and it is hard to imagine why United Airlines would want pass travelers to look as if they are going to an interview. Leggings can be presentable. Students wear them to class. And if jeans are allowed, then so should leggings.

Also, the biggest problem with this incident was that the father of the girls was wearing shorts that didn't pass his knees as his daughters were being told to change their clothing. How can clothing that is actually more revealing more skin be considered perfectly fine while something that is tight but covers someone’s skin entirely is not?

Many people may not realize why this situation has caused so much controversy over the past few days. What they fail to realize is that oftentimes when a certain dress code is being enforced, it is systematically put in place to target women more than men. It is much easier for someone to look at a woman or girl and pinpoint something that may not be “appropriate” because of the way it fits her body. And when you do this, you send out the harmful message that women should be held accountable for their clothing choices while men should not.

If United Airlines had asked the father to change into something more appropriate as well, they would not have to be dealing with the negative press that they are now.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 149th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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