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Too Big for Sexy Red Dresses? | Manolo for the Big Girl

Too Big for Sexy Red Dresses?

I, for one, never thought the merger of two airlines would lead to a sartorial showdown. It would seem, however, that I would have been wrong.

Delta Air Lines recently acquired Northwest  Airlines, and those NWA employees are now in need of new Delta uniforms. So far, so good.

The fuss has been raised over a red dress designed by Richard Tyler for Delta. While other uniform pieces are available up to a size 28, the sexy red wrap dress is only available up to a size 18…and a small size 18, at that.

And so it is that the Northwest chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA has filed suit to get the red dress made available in the same range of sizes as the other uniforms flight attendants may wear.

Patricia Reller, who handles the grievances brought before the union’s executive committee is firmly of the opinion that if even one flight attendant over a size 18 wants to wear the dress, she should be able to do so. She’s also pretty sure there’s more than one woman who wants to wear it:

“If the dress wasn’t a tiny size 18, there would be less,” Reller said. “It’s a very small size 18, so that makes the numbers a lot larger.”

Of course Delta isn’t taking this lying down. Their spokeswoman, Gina Laughlin, could not explain why the dress is not available in larger sizes, but says there have been few complaints.

“The majority of pre-merger Northwest flight attendants have given us very positive feedback about the Richard Tyler Collection,” Laughlin said.

Hmmm…few complaints? Majority positive feedback? I wonder who those ‘few complaints’ came from and what the minority were unhappy about.

“The sizing of our red dress has not been an issue with Delta flight attendants since the program’s inception three years ago. This is AFA hype leading up to the election,” Laughlin said.

As for me, I think that if every other uniform piece is offered in sizes up to 28, stopping the sizes for one single popular piece at a smaller-than-average 18 is simply unfair. There just plain isn’t a good reason for denying larger employees the option of red.

5 Responses to “Too Big for Sexy Red Dresses?”

  1. Leah July 12, 2009 at 11:21 am #

    http://s.wsj.net/media/RichardTylerUniform_DV_20090330093300.jpg

    The dress in question, if anyone is interested. This is a silhouette that would actually look pretty bangin’ on a lot of big girls. BUT OBVIOUSLY BIG GIRLS LOOKING SEXY IS INAPPROPRIATE AND UNPROFESSIONAL. Either you want your attendants to be eye candy or your don’t. Make up your mind, delta.

  2. leymoo July 13, 2009 at 8:35 am #

    If you look at pictures of the uniform range, the red dress is actually a wrap dress with rather cute looking cuffs (slight 80s feel, but look great).

    Wrap dresses are about the most flattering thing you can put on about 99% of women, and despite all this hype I’ve seen about the uniforms being “sexy” they’re actually very practical looking.

    From what I hear in the US most employees buy their own uniform, so hopefully if there is the demand they’ll make some to match the demand!

    Personal bit: I recall an odd moment when I worked for McDonalds for a bit when I was 17 or so where I was offered a size “14” (10 US) shirt (a size short) and was asked to wear it until the new uniform order turned up. When I asked to wear a male shirt instead – which was in the same colour – the response was “but what’s wrong with people seeing your figure?”

    Now in non-uniform jobs I’m stuck to the all confusing “smart end of business casual” which basically means “if it conforms to what people think you should wear, it’s fine”. This usually translates to “the skinny girl can wear that dress here, but it would not look appropriate on you in the workplace”. Gargh!

  3. Leigh July 13, 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    I, for one, am NOT surprised by weight discrimination by the airlines because it’s been going on for a really long time. My mom, who was a flight attendant in the late 60’s, actually had to lose weight to keep her job. The kicker? She was 5’4″ and 102 lbs. Really. She has body image issues to this day.

  4. leymoo July 13, 2009 at 1:49 pm #

    RoseCampion: bear in mind there are many other jobs in Delta as well as flight attendants! I have heard many rumours of Flight Attendant roles having an official or unofficial “size policy” but I have no idea if any of it is true. I’ve also noticed that male flight attendants also seem to be of the petite type: usually less broad shoulders and shorter than average as well, so it’s the same discrimination for everyone.

    I recall somewhere that Hooter’s waitresses do not weigh the staff unlike usually thought: the reality would be that a photo would be taken when the person was initially employed and it was considered a breach of regulations if they changed too much from that picture: that also included things like hair dying.

    Some jobs have height restrictions as well as weight ones (silly imagined example: someone who wears a Mickey Mouse suit at Disneyland), and I feel that this should be allowed if it is for safety reasons, of if a deviation from their specs seriously affects the ability to do the job well. Otherwise, sue or create union pressure to change the policy!

  5. proud delta fa July 13, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    Red is Delta’s color choice for flight attendants. The red dress is only offered to in-flight personnel. The other navy uniform pieces are made for all Delta employees. Flight attendants are required for safety to fit in jump seats without using a seat belt extension. If a flight attendant can’t fit in the size 18 dress, then they won’t fit safely into a jump seat. Why offer something that can’t be used? It’s not discrimination.

    I hope this clears up your concerns.