22-year-old Chicago resident, Kayla Eubanks, didn’t think anything of her outfit when she went to LaGuardia Airport in New York to get on a flight back to Midway International Airport.
She was approached by an airline employee as she was checking in her bags, and was asked to put on a sweater. Eubanks was wearing a black bralette, converse sneakers and red maxi skirt. She told the employee not to worry about it.
She took to Twitter to recount the ensuing incident: “Y’all I was KICKED OFF my @SouthwestAir flight because my boobs are ‘lewd, obscene and offensive.’ I was told that passengers may look at me in my attire and be offended.” She then attached a picture of the attire in question.
In an interview with TODAY, Eubanks recounted telling the airline employee: "I’m OK — it’s supposed to be 70 in Chicago where I was (going) so no worries." She then headed towards her gate, and on the way, two employees also commented on her outfit.
"One of them was a man and said, 'I like your outfit' and the lady said 'Where’s your shirt?'" Eubanks stated. "And I was like, 'That’s weird, whatever.'"
When she finally made her way to the front of the line to board the plane, she was barred from entering the plane.
"She’s like, 'Well you need to cover up,'" she said, adding that an employee told her, "... what you have on is inappropriate, it goes against our policy."
Eubanks’ tweet continued: “I really wanna know why @SouthwestAir is policing my clothes like this. How will my shirt impact my flight, for myself, the other passengers or even the pilot? Y’all have a dress code for CUSTOMERS who pay to get on a plane? It’s the constant policing of women’s bodies for me.”
When she asked the employee to clarify why she couldn’t get on the plane, the employee only had the response, "you just can’t be wearing that." She stated that it took several employees to find the policy in question, and when they showed her, "it used the words 'obscene, lewd and offensive.'”
"I see what this is but it doesn’t apply to me — you can’t tell me that my body is in any way lewd and offensive. That’s just not, you know, right," Eubanks recalled telling an employee. "She basically said, 'This is our policy and I’m deciding that what you’re wearing isn’t appropriate."
Eubanks was furious, but agreed to put on the provided shirt so that she could go home. However, she maintains that the policy was unfair and that it shouldn't have applied to her.
“The policy says it has to be lewd, obscene or offensive," she recalled telling Southwest employees after landing in Chicago. "Do you know what these words mean? Because I can’t imagine that you’re trying to tell me that my body parts can be described by these words."
Eubanks was given a refund of her round-trip flight after she lodged her complaints.
The airline sent a statement to TODAY: "Our Employees are responsible for the well-being and comfort of everyone onboard the flight. We do our best to promote a family-centric environment, and we count on our Customers to use good judgment and exercise discretion while traveling. Regarding our policies, each situation is very different, and our Employees are responsible for following our Contract of Carriage, which is available on our website. The Customer was allowed to travel on her scheduled itinerary, and we also reached out to her directly to apologize for her experience and provide a refund of her fare as a gesture of goodwill."
"A lot of people were like, 'Don’t be difficult, you could’ve just put on the shirt,' and I’m like, I shouldn’t have to," Eubanks said. "My boarding a plane shouldn’t be left to someone else’s personal biases. That doesn’t make sense to me … the double standards, it’s not fair, it’s not."
"But it just sucks because I feel like as a woman — especially a Black woman — my body is always being policed, oversexualized," she added. "And for the two employees to say that my breasts are obscene, lewd and offensive, that is directly tied to my womanhood, you know, like I can’t leave them at home, I can’t change them.”
Sources: America Now