A former British Airways worker told an inquiry she felt “prostituted” when she was ordered to wear heels, skirts and make-up for her job.
Ruth Campion said being told what to wear was an attempt to make cabin crew look “more sexy”.
Campion was giving evidence to MPs alongside Nicola Thorp, who was sent home from her job for refusing to wear high heels, the BBC reported.
More than 140,000 people have signed a petition calling for a ban on forcing women to wear high heels at work.
Campion said BA staff were expected to wear full uniform, including high heels, from the moment they left their house, on public transport and in the airport building.
Only when passengers were sitting down were they allowed to change into flat shoes, she said.
“For an employer to tell me that I need to do that in order for the business to have a certain image, it made me akin to being prostituted,” Campion said.
Petitions Committee member Ian Blackford said it was “remarkable” behaviour on the part of the employer, because allowing staff to change shoes during the flight “was recognising there’s potentially a health and safety issue” with the footwear.
“For me it’s part of a culture that can’t be challenged,” Campion said.
“We’re talking about a uniform that’s dictated to the tiniest amount, so for example you can only carry your handbag on your right shoulder.
“So to put your hand up and say ‘I’d like to wear flat shoes and trousers and a cardigan if I’m cold, and I don’t want to wear make-up’, would put you in the minority, most definitely”.
Thorp’s petition, calling for it to be made illegal to require women to wear high heels at work, has now had more than 148,000 signatures.
The Petitions Committee has set up the high heels and workplace dress codes inquiry in response.
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