Throw Back Thursday
Braniff’s 1960s Flight Strip
A look back to the 1960s counter culture/social revolution and today’s changing standards—as expressed in airline flight attendant attire. The irony is both examples involve women in decision-making roles. A French early 19th century critic, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, observed “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”—maybe, maybe not; perhaps the 2018 example is distorted by its cultural base?
As CEO of second tier Braniff International Airways decided to involve the talents of his wife, Mary Wells Lawrence, to create a unique look to the carrier. The advertising guru jazzed up the exterior of the fleet, however, her most recognized innovation was the Braniff Air Strip (see also The Braniff Airlines “Air Strip’ | Daily Mail Online–
While the Air Strip was sensational, the actual change in clothing was not as shocking. The contemporary reviews did not critique the “look” for its obvious sexism, but the campaign was cited in a Harvard Law Review article as an example of the sexual discrimination of that decade.
Since the ‘60s America has experienced, according to the gender historians, the 3rd and 4th waves of feminism. Objectification of women is not tolerated, and the above sixties images not considered acceptable. For flight attendants, female and male, their primary job emphasis is safety.
As totally inappropriate that that “uniform” use in this incident is in 4th wave terms (and the airline has apologized) offensive, what is more incomprehensible is that the flight attendants on a regular basis were this outfit:
This outfit for an emergency situation is totally unsuitable and the appearance detracts from these professionals’ credibility under such circumstances.
What compounds this felonious decision is that VietJet’s CEO is a woman– Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao. She is Vietnam’s first self-made woman billionaire took her budget airline, VietJet Air, public in February 2017.
She launched the airline in 2011 and made a big splash early on with ads featuring bikini-clad flight attendants. Below is a picture of Phuong Thao working one of her company’s flights; perhaps, as her punishment, the CEO should be compelled to wear the airline’s bikini uniform and experience how her decision translates to the self-image of her employees?
Perhaps this is a cultural matter and Viet Nam has not been exposed to Western views of feminism. In any event, no American/Western woman and few American/Western men would buy a ticket on VietJet.
 “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
 Cochrane, Kira (10 December 2013). “The Fourth Wave of Feminism: Meet the Rebel Women”. The Guardian.;
 Justice for women and opposition to sexual harassment, violence against women, misogyny and gender equality. Its essence is “incredulity that certain attitudes can still exist”.
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