How to Dress for the Airport

Item One: Henry Jenkins is the Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program. He has a very thoughtful summary of the Star Simpson story, which you may recall was the recent incident in which an MIT student triggered a bomb alert at Logan airport because she turned up wearing a t-shirt with blinking lights and other funny looking stuff. Plus she was playing with a roll of Play-Dough.

Prof. Jenkings also has good things to say about what this teaches us about the difference between dead-tree media and blogs, and also what this tells MIT students about how to dress for the airport.

Item two: Today's Miami Herald reprises the case of Kyla Ebbert, who was told she couldn't fly on Soutwest Airlines because she was wearing a short skirt, and expands it to discuss the online fashion police more generally. These print version of the article has a photo of the offending garments, which are certainly not eyebrow-raising by south Florida standards, and which the article tells us involve more fabric than the outfit Ms. Ebbert is required to wear on her job as a Hooters waitress.

In a separate incident, Southwest's fashion police also required a passenger to change what it called a sexually suggestive T-shirt or risk getting thrown off the plane. Apparently this sort of thing happens with some frequency. Apparently too much skin prevents airplanes from getting sufficient lift to fly or something.

Could the “no-fly rule” have taken on a new meaning?

Or is could it just be irrational, arbitrary, behavior on the part of (some) flight attendants? Consider this from Ms. Ebbert,

What really tops the whole story off is that Ebbert wore the same outfit on the return flight to San Diego later that day. A female flight attendant also took note of it, according to Ebbert.

“I was complimented by the stewardess on my return flight,” she said.

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6 Responses to How to Dress for the Airport

  1. Flyer says:

    I don’t know if you saw ‘good morning america’ or whatever tv show it was back when that Ebbert story first came up, but when the girl sat down everyone watching TV got a pretty blatant ‘crotch shot’ of her panties. She really did look like a tramp. She wasn’t dressing to make a statement or to be comfortable, she was dressing because there’s not much to her beyond boobs and legs.

  2. MichaelGuinan says:

    Please rethink your position on Kyla Ebbert and consider who Kyla Ebbert is. After doing this ask yourself whether it seems more likely Kyla Ebbert is the type of person who would dress provacitively in the wrong environment or whether Southwest was using their legal judgment. Why are we acting as if it is appropriate for a fine-dining restaurant to have proper standards of dress but not another private business like an airlines.

    Prior to the best thing that will happen in her life – the attention she has received as being a “victim” of big business – her myspace account was open to the public and filled with sexaully charged photographs of her in high heels, bra, and panties. This is the same person who was embarassed she was asked to adjust her clothing.

    The angle that we don’t want an airline policing attire unless there is a dress code is the exact reason we need to pay attention to this closely. Do businesses need to post dress codes now? The more codes and laws we demand the less freedom we really have.
    I watched Kyla on Dr. Phil receive her apology which she now claims was not good enough because of its word play.
    I’ve been playing devil’s advocate with Kyla Ebbert’s story since I read it last week. And I find myself asking questions which lead me to seriously consider if the airlines acted justifiably. The outfit we see Kyla wearing on The Today Show and in The San Diego Union-Tribune is now in its most conservative state. In all likelihood the skirt was higher and the shirt was pulled down so the public could admire the new breast augmentation. While watching the clip from The Today Show I could see clearly see the crotch of Kyla’s white panties.
    Remembering this is in its most conservative state we have to ask ourselves to what degree could this same outfit be in its most liberal state. Is it possible she wasn’t wearing panties? Is it possible her wardrobe was inappropriate? This is a good story because of its shock value and because it involves a local, young college co-ed. If a 300lb man were sitting next to me on a plane in nothing more than a Speedo I would ask a representative of the airlines to address the situation. Is it illegal? No. Inappropriate? Yes.
    If a passenger boarded the plane wearing a shirt with a swastika logo, I would be offended even though that original symbol is thousands of years old its Nazi implications are overt. It is implied that we as individuals use good judgment when interacting with each other. And when someone doesn’t show good judgment, as is very possible in this situation, we ask a representative of the business to use their good judgment on our behalf. If you go to original Kyla’s myspace page, the first photo she chooses to represent herself is her in a black bra and black panties wearing high heels with a few friends dressed the same way.
    What we are doing by giving Kyla so much attention for this story is encouraging some of the same behaviors many of us find nauseating: Litigation because a business refuses to apologize for using what may have been good judgment. Does every business and public place need to outline a proper dress code? If we keep flaming this story from the perspective that Kyla is a victim of big business without first giving the airline the benefit of doubt, we are doing all of ourselves a disservice. It seems to me Kyla enjoys using her new breasts and her body, in general, to get attention and financial reward: her myspace page, Hooters, the lack of wardrobe, her many flights via Southwest, etc… And that is fine in the appropriate venues.
    She is making the circuit on as many of the media outlets which will have her before she ends up nude in December’s issue of a men’s magazine. But before we all feign outrage, I suggest we consider the flip side of this coin. It is possible she was dressed inappropriately. It is legal for a private business to weigh the circumstance and make a judgment. I would much rather Kyla’s stay offended during this media blitz because she didn’t receive an apology than for me to have to succumb to a detailed, written dress code in every public place I go. I prefer to use my own common sense when dressing, and would hope I don’t get pulled aside and asked to change my outfit because it is inappropriate or take a shower because my body odor is intolerable or stop using profanity while drinking too much or any one of many things which are legal but tasteless.
    Kyla was on KGB 101.5 on 09/12 in San Diego. She mentioned she flew with Southwest more than 100 times last year. Why and Where? Vegas perhaps. Also on her original (below) myspace she mentions she is “retired”. From what?

    Kyla Ebbert’s background is questionable. She claims to have traveled via Southwest more than 100 times in one year. That is like one or two trips a week. On her original myspace (below) she claims she is “retired”. From what? She claims she wants to meet Hugh Hefner. Also the myspace ad screams volumes. If more people connected the dots I think there would be less people defending her as if she is an innocent victim randomly chosen out of a herd. She potrays herself as a possible call-girl / stripper. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is what we find out eventually. Then how many people would be feigning outrage?

  3. BurkaLover says:

    You sound like a repressed Republican. Its because of prudes like you that prostitution is illegal in this country. This outstanding young woman has nothing to be ashamed of. She paid for her ticket like everyone else. She’s an American hero.

    I bet you think they should have tasered her too.

  4. Steve says:

    While watching the clip from The Today Show I could see clearly see the crotch of Kyla’s white panties.

    . . . and then my TiVo overheated after the 437th replay.

  5. wcw says:

    I remember being a wee tot (well, pre-teen anyhow) in the early ’80s, getting stopped at many a border crossing in Europe by one or another apparatchik. It was deeply annoying, but we handed over our passports, endured the indignity, and moved on. I find it oddly charming that the US has picked off where the East Bloc left off. I don’t get stopped here, either. The last time I flew, I wore a rock-star blazer and a vacant expression.

    They love that.

    The only time the TSA has stopped me was the time I flew with a bronze bust of my own head (a friend made it, 1.5x life size). The claim was that it (poorly cast and way too heavy) could be a ‘weapon’.

    I checked it, confident it would cause more damage to their equipment than they imagined.

  6. howard says:

    I’m flying from Ho Chi Minh to Miami today wearing a cambodian landmines tshirt. I doubt I will have problems boarding any of the ariplanes sporting this tshirt even though it does have a picture of a landmine on the back. I am more worried that after not showering for fourteen hours on the Hong Kong to Ohare flight, I will smell so foul that they won’t allow me to board the plane to Miami. Do you think the clothes ban may ever be extended to odors such as smoke, perfume, or armpits?

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