Former Flight Attendant Admits Those Returning From Maternity Leave Had To 'Starve Themselves'

Lex Gabrielle
Unsplash | NeONBRAND

When flying on airlines, one of the things people love is flight attendants. They are the people who make your flights enjoyable and entertaining, with their personalities, their charm, and for many people—their looks. Many airline companies push that the flight attendant should "look" a certain way in order to represent the company in a specific manner. However, it turns out that some airline cultures can be incredibly toxic and also harmful to the people who are involved and hired by them.

Many airline companies will only hire people if they look the part.

Unsplash | Lukas Souza

Many flight attendants speak out about the "beauty standards" that they have to face on a regular basis. Many reveal that they are constantly checking themselves in the mirror and looking at their bodies and image to ensure they fit into the company's guidelines and standards—whomever they work for. However, some say the standards are "unrealistic."

Now, some former flight attendants are speaking out about how toxic the culture can be.

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A former Emirates employee who worked as a flight attendant came out and discussed how many women who worked for the company had to endure toxic work conditions in order to maintain a body weight that was conducive to the company's standards. Jay Robert spoke to Insider about how his former co-workers and friends suffered.

Robert had worked for Emirates for 13 years before leaving.

Unsplash | Tim Dennert

Throughout his time with the company, he said that women who work for the company would have to endure "harsh pressure" in order to maintain their body weight—even after returning from maternity leave. According to Robert and other former employees, they had a "weight police" at Emirates.

Robert was one of the "police" at some point.

Unsplash | Lukas Souza

The former employee told Insider that he was "required as senior staff to carry out image and grooming checks on cabin crew before flights." New mothers would be "grounded" without their per diem pay. That is, until they lost all of the weight that was "required" of them. Even if they were new, nursing mothers, they would be "grounded."

Robert said he couldn't believe the company would treat new mothers this way.

Unsplash | Spencer Imbrock

"They take your paycheck away until you can fit into their limits, their weight limits.

How do you expect a mother whose hormones have changed, who's now breastfeeding her child, how do you lose this much weight this fast without starving themselves?"

Apparently, the "cabin checks" weren't the only issues.

Unsplash | Adam Marikar

Other former female employees and managers said that the "unspoken" and "unwritten" rules that happened were almost too crazy to believe. One former manager said that female employees were sometimes weighed before and after maternity leave in order to get back to the "target" weight they needed to be at.

Many women starved themselves.

Unsplash | i yunmai

Women began to crash-diet and try to lose all of the weight faster, so they can maintain their job, salary, and employment—especially with a new baby at home. One flight attendant even said she had "anxiety" while out on leave because she was unsure how she was going to lose all of the weight in time to go back.

While there is no concrete language in their maternity leave clause on weight, there are other clauses.

Unsplash | Siora Photography

Emirates employees are entitled to 145 days of maternity leave, 45 of which are paid. In addition, they must be registered as "married" in order to receive maternity leave from the company (which means any babies out of wedlock won't be covered and paid). However, there is no "weight clause" in the company's maternity contract language.

However, it does say they must meet "uniform standards."

Unsplash | Alexander Schimmeck

The language specifically says that returning mothers must meet "Uniform Standards Manual including attaining a healthy BMI." The BMI is precise which indicates how much they weigh and then whether or not the company would interpret this as "healthy" or "unhealthy."

While the company did not comment on the previous employee's comments on policing, they did issue a statement.

Unsplash | Mike van den Bos

"The wellbeing of our employees is of the utmost importance.

The programme offers guidance and coaching on a range of issues, from safety training through to physical and mental health support. Being fit and healthy is critical to cabin crew being able to carry out duties safely and effectively," a spokesperson said.

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