Turks see red over lipstick ban

ISTANBUL - Turkey's national airline has barred female flight attendants from wearing red lipstick and nail polish, striking a nerve among secular Turks worried the country is becoming more Islamic.

Turkish Airlines, Europe's fourth-biggest carrier, said the ban was aimed at keeping crews "artless and well-groomed with makeup in pastel tones", as a natural look improved communication with passengers.

"As a consequence of our current cabin uniforms the use of lipstick and nail polish in these colours by our cabin crew impairs visual integrity," the statement said.

Turkish Airlines declined a request for further comment.

The guideline follows other restrictions on employees' appearance and on serving alcohol.

The flag carrier caused a stir earlier this year when newspapers published mockups of a new Ottoman-style uniform for stewardesses with ankle-length dresses, a proposal the airline's management appears to have since abandoned.

That was followed by a ban on alcohol on planes flying to most domestic destinations and some Islamic countries.

"They are objecting to the lipstick and nail polish that we have been using for years," said Asli Gokmen, a flight attendant who lost her job with more than 300 others last year during a union protest and is petitioning for her position back.

Turks worried the government is undermining the country's secular order see a hidden agenda.

On Twitter, women posted pictures after applying red lipstick.

One wrote: "Why not just ban stewardesses altogether so we can all breathe a sigh of relief?"

Turkish Airlines passenger Ahmet Yerl said he did not think the new guideline was a sign of creeping Islamisation but that the ban was still "absurd."

"I've never heard of a plane crashing because of a women's lipstick," he said before his flight.

- Reuters

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