Turkish Airlines is backpedaling after its ban on flight attendants wearing red lipstick stirred up controversy among critics who worried the rule meant the country was becoming too Islamic.
A memo from the airline's media relations department detailing a ban on red cosmetics (lipstick and nail polish) circulated last week. It said that such makeup would impair the "visual integrity" of the staff.
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But now, Turkish Airlines officials are calling the ban a mistake that junior managers orchestrated without upper-level approval.
"As to the lipstick, we had no problems but somehow low-level managers put together a paper without asking us and that paper leaked to the media and became a big issue," Turkish Airlines Chief Executive Temel Kotil told reporters.
Kotil said there is no ban on cosmetics for the company's flight attendants.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK Party, which traces its roots to a banned Islamic party, has relaxed the state's control over the expression of religion, such as once-strict limits imposed on wearing the Islamic-style headscarf, but some feel Turkey is still too conservative.
Last month, when photos of new Turkish Airlines uniforms being considered for the airline leaked on social media, many criticized the more conservative trend, which featured longer hemlines and more traditional necklines.
Another set of recent guidelines prohibited flight attendants from having platinum blond hair as well as certain shades of red dye.
Turkish Airlines also made headlines last month when it banned alcohol service on a majority of domestic flights
, citing low demand, according to CNN. Turkish Airlines also stopped serving alcohol on eight international flights at the request of the host countries, it said.
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