“So how short can a skirt get”, a friend asked me. That got me thinking.
We shunned them as narrow minded, cheap and petty when they complained about Sania’s skirt’s length. We hate it when people tell us what not to wear. We believe in freedom of expression and we believe that dressing is a way of expression. We protest against dress codes and claim that they serve no purpose. Some of us think clothes are all about comfort, and some of us go for looks and some of us just don’t care. But all of us unanimously think it’s our business, what we wear and no one else’s.
While freedom is a birthright, a society can’t function as one, unless there is a decorum maintained. We can’t have Poonam Pandeys walking on the street; we are a sane country. We are a civilized society and we do need a bit of propriety in the way we go about our lives. That brings ‘appropriateness’ into the picture. Most of us do know, or at least we believe we know what’s acceptable and otherwise. We think we are old enough to decide that for ourselves and we detest free advice.
Every occasion/place has a dress code bound to it. It goes untold. No one asks one to wear sober clothes to a funeral or formal clothes to a meeting, one just knows it. The general belief that skimpy/tight-clothes-are-indecent is illogical. Yes, I’d look like a lost my head if I walk into office in beach clothes. The same way, I’d look ridiculous in a ‘pattu pavadai’ at a pool party. It’s all about the occasion, and understanding this is not cumbersome. However, this, I believe is not enough to decide what is okay and what isn’t.
I have always believed it’s not what one wears, but how one wears what one wears that determines what’s okay and what’s not. There is a thin line between looking good and looking vulgar. India’s accepted formal attire — a sari, also happens to be known as the sexiest outfit for a woman. Yet, half of India points fingers at the girls in jeans. A sari can be worn to a party, a meeting, a temple or anywhere else in the world. So can a pair of jeans or a skirt. How appropriate it is, depends on how’s it’s worn. We’ve seen enough of that, to not know it. Haven’t we watched Parineeta and Dirty Picture? If nothing else, Vidya has taught us that much.
However, the first to be blamed when it comes to inappropriate clothes is not the person in the attire, but the “the western culture” that’s supposedly creeping in just to corrupt the morals of the youth. Sadly, this doesn’t apply to the men in the society. When a woman walks in, dressed in a tank top, she’s judged and ridiculed. Comfort is not an acceptable criterion, I suppose. When it comes to women’s clothes, our Indians get too fond of the Indian culture. At other times, the love magically evaporates. Have you heard of anyone comment about a man in a shirt and trousers? Of course not, how could you have? No, he isn’t blindly aping the “American culture” like the women do. He’s a formally dressed gentleman. Dear Indian sister/brother, use some logic please!
Let me ramble just a little more about the injustice women are forced to live with. Have you ever trekked all the way to a water fall, eager to get drenched? Or have you been so excited to jump in the waves of a sea? I have. And most of the time, reality fails my expectations. Every fun place has some uncivil men who with no consideration of decency/shame, jump in to the water after almost completely stripping (I thank the Gods up in the skies that it’s just almost). I wish someone told them swim trunks are available in the market. Ironically, our Indian friends don’t find that appalling. They prefer to have debates on national television about the cheer leading attire / bathing suits women wear these days.
While some men disparage a woman for her “unacceptable” attire, they gape at her secretly. Hypocrites, I say.