A controversial event took place at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on October 6, after a woman reported on her Twitter account that she wasn’t allowed to board a flight to Chicago because she was wearing a sleeveless, low-cut top. The young woman, named Kayla Eubanks, posted a video that went viral.
According to BuzzFeed News, Southwest Airlines boarding personnel denied the 22-year-old entry for “violating the dress code”. Eubanks said they called her clothing and her cleavage “lewd, obscene and offensive”. The woman explained that “Generally, I wear T-shirts, sweats, or whatever to the airport, but it was supposed to be like 77 degrees in Chicago when I landed. Besides, it was only a one-and-a-half-hour flight.”
In his Twitter thread, Eubanks says that after dropping off her luggage, she experienced the uncomfortable moment when the flight personnel didn’t allow her to board the plane because she was wearing a sleeveless top. “I was initially shocked, then I was very annoyed because this is discriminatory,” said the young woman. She also commented on her bust, “I literally cannot remove these from me, I’m a woman and they’re mine, I can’t leave them at home, I can’t detach them so for you to tell me that my body part is offensive, I don’t know what you want.”
Southwest Airlines issued a statement and reported that it had apologized directly to the young woman, in addition to reimbursing her for the flight as a “gesture of goodwill”. Likewise, they made it clear that their dress code advised users to “dress to impress”. “You will be expected to present a clean, well-groomed and tasteful appearance,” the statement reads. Regarding the situation with the young woman, they clarified that they did its best to “promote a family-centric environment”.
— Kayla Eubanks (@UziSuzy) October 6, 2020
However, the conflict didn’t end there. Eubanks managed to get on the plane on the condition that she wore a T-shirt that was given to her by the flight staff. For the young woman, it was totally out of the question. “It seemed that everything that was going on was based on personal biases, and I just don’t feel that that’s appropriate,” she said.
For Eubanks, flight reimbursement wasn’t the real solution to the problem. “I think they need to update the policy. I think it needs to be nondiscriminatory. I think that as a woman, specifically a Black woman, my body is constantly policed and over-sexualized, and that’s not fair to me,” the 22-year-old emphasized. She added that it wasn’t acceptable to leave that measure to the interpretation of airline employees.