Airlines in Catalonia might have to be more mindful of their professional dress code requirements for women, Source: Depositphotos

Catalonia aims to ban professional sexualization by regulating work outfits

Catalonia aims to ban professional sexualization by regulating work outfits

The regional equality ministry aims to eliminate aesthetic pressure on women with a multi-point plan full of new measures

The Catalonian Ministry of Equality has identified aesthetic pressure as one of the hindrances plaguing society today, and something that stands in the way of full professional realization or enjoyment of life for many women. As a result, the ministry has released a 60-point action plan, which will tackle the phenomenon in all walks of life as a way to end what they have described as “the symbolic violence on women”.

The plan will include such things as a code of best practices to promote body diversity, an agreement with the advertising sector for transparency on images that have been retouched, recommendations on work uniforms to make them less sexually suggestive and a pilot test to undertake hiring processes with blind CVs, i.e., without photos from applicants. 

"The discomfort and dissatisfaction with one's body has a cause: it's called aesthetic pressure and it's a structural problem inherent in the patriarchy," declared Tania Verge, the equality minister. "There are no imperfect or abnormal bodies, our bodies are diverse ", he added. "We want women to stop being at war with their bodies. For this reason, combating aesthetic pressure is part of the feminist transformation that this Government is promoting."

Taking away physical appearance as a factor in the professional sphere

Aesthetic pressure, according to the officials, takes place in the world of work, especially in professions that involve direct interaction with the public. And as people move away from the canons of beauty established by patriarchy, they are more likely to be excluded from the labour market. 

Also, there are highly feminized professions in which the employer exerts a high aesthetic pressure on the workers, through the imposition of uniforms or sexualized work clothing, that have nothing to do with comfort or functionality related to the activity and rather have the aim of enhancing the body of female workers and attracting more consumers.

Last week, for instance, the authorities sanctioned the Vueling airline company for obliging its female employees to wear make-up and high heels.

For this reason, the Plan envisages the development of recommendations for the regulation of uniforms that avoid aesthetic pressure and respect the diversity of bodies addressed to the business fabric and the Labor Relations Council. It is also planned to develop a pilot test to promote personnel selection processes with blind CVs, to avoid discrimination based on physical appearance, and the interaction of this with other axes of discrimination such as gender, ageism, racism or ableism.

Clothing stores must offer a wider variety of sizes

The plan will also affect the fashion retail industry and the advertising sector, which are seen as big drivers behind the promotion of certain body types while excluding others.

For clothing stores, the imminent reform of the Consumer Code will mean two new obligations, that large multinationals must have a wider range of sizes and that all stores must report how their system of sizes corresponds with body measurements," explained Meritxell Benedí, the president of the Catalan Institute for Women, as quoted by The Catalan News. 

The plan will involve an agreement with the media and advertisers to adopt criteria for equality in advertising, identifying the use of images or parts of the body that are manipulated or retouched. In addition, a code of good practices will be drawn up to promote body diversity to eliminate stereotypical representations. 



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