“And what about after marriage?” she asked. In all honesty she answered, “I don’t know, maybe in time”. After a brief pause she decided to add, “But then, they are just clothes. Who cares anyway?”
In all honesty-NOBODY!
These two young ladies were discussing their (one of theirs) dress code post marriage. And, this wouldn’t be the first time in the history of mankind that women are caught red-handed talking about their attire (or, the change in attire).
In one of my previous posts, I threw floodlights on the direct relation between uniforms and women. I have always believed that the society (okay, let me point fingers here, Indian society!) always stresses itself over the need to dress or scrutinise the underdressed women residing amongst us.
The patriarchs would ramble about a woman’s honour and the need to preserve it by way of hiding it. If they have more time on hand, they would narrate stories of days gone by when women weren’t westernised and crime against women were as low as nil. Caution: They are either lying or are half-informed (which is the likeliest possibility).
The roles played by a woman in the play named life are as diverse as the languages in India. But unlike the widely publicized ‘unity in diversity’, a woman’s right to dress is a topsy-turvy road. A new phase in life commands new armour for the woman in action. In fact, her dress code plays an integral role in the society’s decision of accepting her (or, rejecting her, for that matter).
Which era do you even live in? Hello, this is the 21st century! Indian women have touched the skies and have dipped into the deepest blues. Yes, I now know what you are talking of-these are the ladies from the most ignored rural parts of the country, right?
No, these are ladies who reside in the so-called-urbanised cities. Ladies who have studied in the best institutes in the country (in the world, for that matter), working ladies who have travelled places and have seen faces and many phases, ladies who depict the perfect picture of a modern woman in India; I call her a cross-breed (no offence meant).
She has the aims, the achievements and the aspirations which precede that of a man, but this inspirational woman comes to an end right then and there. I am not one of them, I firmly hold onto my beliefs and nothing can shake me.
You are either too young to have any dealings with such scenarios or otherwise, too blessed. Women in India are expected to dress-dress in a manner which they want you to-before marrying, after marrying, before losing your husband, after losing your husband-the only time you can dress as you like (it is most likely that you are being dressed according to you parent’s liking which mostly would aim to please the society) is as a girl.
Girlhood and teenhood are the times when you can liberally strut (I am sorry, good girls walk) around in an attire of your choice. Why? Because those associated with you can always get away with, “Oh! She’s just a child, she’ll know in time”.
The moment you hit your adult life, changes would stealthily creep in. My folks are pretty cool, they educated me, raised me to be an independent woman. In fact, I am blessed to have people in my life who don’t give what I wear a second thought.
Take a deep breath and steel yourself- Your folks and those around you are lying to you, duping you! Did your mom say you look good in saris? Did your aunt gift you an expensive salwaar-kameez? Does your boyfriend say this way too often, “Baby, you look good in Indians, why don’t you wear them more often?” Have you studied in institutes which have ‘sari days’ and ‘traditional days’? The evidences are right in front of you. Pay heed and let your brain process this information. (I don’t deny the existence of genuine compliments which are not laden with a purpose).
By no means have I claimed Indian wears to be tacky or gaudy looking. I am not promoting jeans, shirts and dresses. I am not asking you to shed those extra layers and put those goodies on display (sorry, for being crass). I have a question (okay, make that many questions) which has plagued me since a very long time and I wish to pass this question on to you.
Why aren’t guys (more often) complimented, “Hey, you look good in kurta. Why don’t you wear them more often?” Why don’t prospective in-laws expect their son-in-laws in Indians? Why is the girl painted for hours on end and then draped in a sari, while the boy puts on his shirt and pant to meet his perspective wife (in an arranged marriage scenario)? What do the parents aim to portray –their daughter isn’t ‘modernised’? What do the in-laws aim to portray- their daughter-in-law is a goddess in disguise?
While, you come up with some answers (or, excuse, depending on your mindset), let me tell you some of my findings- firstly, jeans, shirt and the so called westerns aren’t westernization. Yes, they first became a trend amongst women in west, but nobody said they cannot be worn in the East. Remember, we live in a global village, the origin doesn’t matter, but the product does. Westerners are Easternising, I don’t hear protests about that and please save me the, “ours is the best in the world” pride-filled speeches.
Modernisation doesn’t mean women putting on pants, it means she knows her stand while draped in a sari, it means she can drape a sari (or, never care to learn it, as well) and flaunt her curves in a jeans, as well. She can dress up and dress down. This is not about what, why and when-this is about her likings, why she likes it, her comfort and her style sense. It could be a Kanchipuram or a pair of Levi’s, her staples is hers to decide.
On a frank note, I pity those who expect to change their daughter’s, wife’s, daughter-in-law’s or any women in the jurisdiction of their relation’s dress code as it is an evidence of them being intimidated-intimidated by the woman in jeans and shirt or plain jealous of her (for her ability to carry it off with panache).
Dress up or dress down-spread the word around and educate the ‘educated’ around that what a woman should or should not wear post or pre-marriage is her prerogative to decide.