A New York lingerie company called Native Intimates is at the center of allegations that the owners fired a young woman for being too attractive. Lauren Odes, a 29-year-old data entry worker, says that the owners of the business were unhappy with her attire and fired her for being too attractive.
Only a few days into the job, she was told to wear clothing that covered more of her body, so Odes put on a pair of leggings and gray t-shirt, according to the New York Daily News. This step was still not enough for the store owners, who are Orthodox Jewish. Odes reports that her supervisor forced her to put on a bright red bathrobe to cover her body for the rest of the day or else go shopping for a sweater that went to her ankles. The supervisor went so far as to tie the bathrobe around Odes’ waist.
Odes claims that she wore the same style of clothing as everyone else who worked at Native Intimates, yet she appears to be the only company employee who was given such harsh treatment. Odes also states that her boss asked her to tape down her breasts in order to minimize their appearance. While she left the office to shop for the sweater that would replace the red bathrobe, she received a phone call in which the owners stated she had been terminated.
Good Morning America states that Odes will be represented by Gloria Allred in the upcoming lawsuit. Allred has called the company’s actions “discriminatory, profoundly humiliating and unlawful.” It seems that no other employees of Native Intimates wants to step forward to discuss these issues at the present moment.
Odes’ case is only one example of the tensions inherent in a working culture where women’s bodies and the dress codes applied to these same bodies are constantly monitored and regulated. Some companies still force women to wear hose, cover their arms with jackets, and wear specific shoes with heels between one and two inches tall.
If Odes is telling the truth, then we can see how women’s bodies are often sexualized even when they are completely covered.
In press reports that Odes gave recently about her experience at Native Intimates, she wears the dress that she donned the day she was fired, when she was told to cover her body in the bathrobe. It is a black dress that reaches her knees and has a high, round neckline, both common elements in female workplace dress code mandates.
Although part of Odes’ discrimination lawsuit is tied to religious discrimination, this case seems much more closely tied to issues of the female body in the workplace. While there are clearly dress codes that help regulate and maintain a professional atmosphere for all employees regardless of gender, many dress codes in the workplace also reflect a fear that the female body donning 3-inch heels or baring naked calves will somehow inundate the workplace with sexual energy and unprofessionalism.
It is also difficult to ignore the fact that Odes got fired from a lingerie company for being “too hot.” The company makes money by selling intimate garments for the female body, yet this woman wearing a black dress to work somehow threatened the establishment, so much so that she was not allowed to return to work. It remains to be seen whether Odes’ story is truthful or what the lawsuit will bring about.
Photo Credit: Lucarelli