Can everyone please calm down? Over the past few days, Twitter users and some usual Hollywood hysteria-makers have jumped aboard a morally righteous bandwagon to chime in on Leggingsgate 2017. That is, the controversy that has unfolded after United Airlines blocked two women in leggings from boarding a flight due to their bottoms violating the airline’s dress code for passengers traveling on a “buddy pass.” According to a United spokesman, every passenger who flies using a “buddy pass"—aka flying for free because a friend or family member works for the airline—also represents the company. Therefore, they forbid such passengers from wearing Lycra or spandex leggings, midriff shirts and flip-flops in flight, among other restrictions.
One of my best friends works for United and I’ve used her buddy pass many times. Before giving me her pass the first time, I remember her reminding me, “The dress code is really strict. No jeans, no leggings, no shorts. Look like a professional because you’re technically representing United and they won’t let you on if you don’t.”
Did I have an issue with this? Of course not, because I was essentially flying for free, on United’s dollar. It also made sense to me that since I was flying as a friend of a United employee, I should look better than the average schlups sporting neck-pillows as accessories. Flying for free is a privilege, not a right. Them’s the rules. You don’t like it? Buy a ticket. I also wouldn’t want to jeopardize my friend’s job or put the gate agent in an awkward position, which the teenagers in question did by not adhering to United’s policy. Don’t shoot the messenger, people.
But for some reason, loads of celebrities took issue with United; people who are almost always flying on someone else’s dollar, by the way. Their outrage over leggings makes it easy to argue that a lot of celebrities have probably lost perspective on what it’s like to live as a normal person. Because doing so includes having to follow rules.
When celebrities chime in on stuff they have no expertise on, it’s aggravating, if only for their ability to rile up people so easily—sometimes with misinformation. I know it’s difficult for people worth millions to understand how us laypeople cashing in on a free fly don’t get to do whatever the fuck we want to do, but we don’t. In reality, we’re expected to show up to our jobs looking professional; we don’t get to arrive on set in pajamas and have a team of people make us look beautiful. But in case you think I’m being harsh, consider two particularly dramatic celebrity reactions to United’s dress code, as shared on Twitter.
I have flown united before with literally no pants on. Just a top as a dress. Next time I will wear only jeans and a scarf.— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) March 26, 2017
No shit you’ve flown on United with no pants, Chrissy. You’re a famous model—and you were probably flying First Class.
Oh really, Sarah? You are going to change all your flights? No, you probably won’t. Your assistant might, and if so, it’s going to be a giant pain in the ass.
I applaud United for making no apologies. Sure, the company could have handled it better on social media, and yes, perhaps its code should be reviewed. Is it fair that a man wearing cargo shorts is okay but a girl in leggings is not? No—but cargo shorts shouldn’t be worn anywhere. But based on Silverman’s and Teigen’s reactions alone, one would think United’s gate agents humiliate passengers for their own shits and giggles. That’s just simply not the case, and a mildly outdated dress code is hardly substantial enough to ignite a movement.
The hysteria around women wearing leggings is downright ridiculous. Stop making everything a movement. United has a policy for people who represent the company. That’s it. If you want to fly for virtually free, dressing professional is a small price to pay. And if we turn everything into a movement, ladies and gentlemen, guess what? Nothing is a movement. If your outrage over leggings is as fervent as it is over police shootings, your outrage comes off as obsolete. It’s definitely ineffective. Unfortunately, thanks to the marriage between Twitter and trigger-happy celebrities tweeting from First Class, we’ve become a culture that cries wolf—and far too often. In fact, we’ve been crying wolf for so fucking long we didn’t even recognize that we let a wolf into the hen house. Er, I mean the White House.