Southwest airlines: fashion police of the skies

First, they came for our toothpaste. Now, our tank tops?

Kyla Ebbert, 23, was recently escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight by a male customer service supervisor for wearing the outfit shown in this photograph. The college student and Hooters waitress was later permitted to return to the plane and take her flight, but only after she put up a fuss and adjusted her outfit:

"I asked him what part of my outfit was offensive," she said. "The shirt? The skirt? And he said, 'The whole thing.' "

"Keith" asked her to go home, change and take a later flight. She refused, citing her appointment. The plane was ready to leave, so Keith relented. He had her pull up her tank top a bit, pull down her skirt a bit, and return to her seat.

In this San Diego Union Tribune column, a fashion critic and a writer were asked for their opinion on Ms. Ebbert's outfit, and the way she was treated by Southwest:

Pascual detected sexism in the way Ebbert was treated, wondering if a man would have been asked to change clothes. Do men dress inappropriately? "I see butt cracks, a lot of butt cracks," she said.

In its letter, Southwest said "there were concerns about the revealing nature of her outfit." I called Hollye Chacón, the Southwest customer relations representative who wrote the letter, to see if we were talking about the same outfit.

"What exactly was being revealed?" I asked. She said yesterday she'd call back, but never did. That's pretty revealing in itself.

Link. (thanks, Bruce Schneier!)

Update: Manolo the shoeblogger points us to Southwest's own response to this at their blog: Link. They link approvingly to the website of an MSNBC producer who had this to say:

At first, when she appeared on the set, it didn't seem like her outfit was so inappropriate. It was clear that her skirt was pretty short, but it didn't seem worthy of getting a lecture from a customer service representative on how to dress. But when she sat down, we learned just how short that skirt was — when she flashed our national television audience. Yeah, that skirt was short.

Manolo says,

Many blogs have found the images from the 1970s of the Southwest flight attendants dressed like the Hooters girls. Here is the NPR link, and the very amusing post from Feministing. And the Manolo' s commentary on this entire brouhaha: one, two.

Also, if you wish to be disgusted, check out what many young and silly Arizona women are wearing: one, two. Compared to this, Kyla Ebbert is Donna Reed.