Men at Japan Air can wear lip gloss and nail polish

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Men working on board at Japan Air are now allowed to use as much cosmetics as the ladies. That means nail polish, foundation, and lip gloss can now be worn by everyone. It’s a notable change for an airline from Japan, where conformity is generally expected. What exactly happened, and why did the organization make this decision?

Men at Japan Air can wear lip gloss and nail polish
Photo: Air Japan

Japan Air joins a new trend

The change in dress code comes a year after the introduction of the new uniform. Although the attire still looks somewhat traditional, Japan Air emphasized that the package is gender-neutral. This aligns completely with the Western trend in the aviation world. One organization after another is launching a new uniform where the difference between men and women supposedly doesn’t exist.

And so, Japan Air has joined in. At the time, I had to laugh a bit. Although the press release states that the garments make no distinction in gender, the photos show something different. The women wear a skirt or pants, but for men, the choice remains trousers. Well, it’s mainly a policy that looks good on paper. In practice, it’s a step too far for many airlines to actually show what being gender-neutral can really look like.

With a few exceptions. For instance, Virgin Atlantic dared to do so. They even built an entire campaign around the abolition of the gender-specific dress code. But they had to hire influencers and other celebrities for this. The male staff apparently didn’t dare to appear in a skirt for the promotional video.


Men at Japan Air can wear lip gloss and nail polish

Now, Japan Air is taking it a step further. Male staff are now allowed to wear the same cosmetics as women. Think foundation, primer, lip gloss, and nail polish. The spokesperson for the airline acknowledges that the company is keeping up with the prevailing trend.

“We have standardized our regulations and abolished rules that differed between genders. This decision was made in consideration of social trends, with respect for diversity, and feedback from the staff.”

It all sounds very modern. But don’t forget the well-known Japanese saying: Deru kugi wa, utareru. It means: The nail that sticks out gets hammered down. Or as we say in the Netherlands: just act normally, that’s already crazy enough. It comes down to the idea that you should mainly conform to the prevailing norms and values.

Moreover, we’re talking about an organization where women have only been allowed to wear pants since 2020. And four years later, the male staff would suddenly start wearing makeup and skirts? I don’t believe it. It makes for good media coverage, but in practice, I don’t think this is going to work. This isn’t policy; this is tokenism.



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