Does This Dress Make You See Red?

You may have seen the news that some Delta flight attendants are upset over the addition of a new uniform option designed by Richard Tyler. What makes this newsworthy is that the dress is available only to those who wear size 18 or lower–a “small 18″, according to the union rep. Some attendants want that changed, arguing that other uniform options are available up to size 28.

My first thought (beyond why would anyone want that dress?) was surprise that some flight attendants would require a dress in plus sizes. When my aunt was a flight attendant (back in the day when they were called ‘stewardesses’), there were strict height and weight restrictions and pre-flight weigh-ins with penalties for exceeding the guidelines.

But then I remembered reading reports several years ago that those restrictions had been “relaxed.” Since I firmly believe that fitness and capability are not tied to a size, it makes sense to me. I’d much rather have a strong and able size 22 woman taking care of my flight than someone like my aunt, who was sometimes so weak from starving to meet the pre-flight weigh-in that she could barely stand up to deliver the pre-flight instructions.

But back to the dress. This story brought up some strong memories for me, primarily the overwhelming embarrassment at not seeing my size 3XL listed on an order form for a softball jersey or event t-shirts and having to ask whoever was coordinating the order if larger sizes were available.

Or another memorable moment when a co-worker kept insisting–in front of our entire department–that I try on a size medium jacket. I was probably 1x or 2x at the time, and I could look at the jacket and see that it was too small. (Another friend opined that our co-worker probably didn’t see me as being obese, which is a good thing, but she should have hushed after my first no.)

The most recent memory occurred a couple of years ago and now that I think about it, it may have been one of the catalysts in my newfound resolve. It’s a long story, but the short version is that everyone at the family reunion was taking turns having their pictures made in a specific shirt. (It was a joke for a cousin who couldn’t attend.) I knew the shirt wouldn’t fit me, and I tried to avoid the photo by being the photographer (raise your hands if you’ve ever done that!), but a well-intentioned aunt kept prodding me to put on the stupid shirt. After the third time, I told her that it wouldn’t fit. She replied, “Well, you can just hold it up in front of you.”

Um, no. I didn’t care to have the moment memorialized forever in film, that I was too fat to fit.

And that brings me back to the red dress. In my 98% emotionally-tinged opinion, Delta should make the red dress available to all attendants. Even the guys, if they’re so inclined. Not doing so sends a message that larger employees “don’t fit” and that they’re not valued as much as smaller employees. I don’t like that.

All that said, I still wouldn’t wear that dress.

It is entirely possible that I’m missing something big here (no pun intended), since I am awash in some ugly memories. What do YOU think? Should Delta provide the dress to all employees, regardless of size? Or do you think this is just one of those ‘tough luck’ situations?