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I Don”t Find The Salwar-Kameez Comfortable; Why Should It Be Mandatory For Me To Wear It?

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By Madhushri Mudke:

This beautiful dress worn all over India doesn’t necessitate an introduction. Right from childhood, we all know the significance of salwar kameez. The dress that constitutes of an assembly of yards of clothing woven and embroidered into the three piece attire- salwar, kameez and dupatta. I accept that women look great in this ethnic Indian dress, in fact I have no issues with it. I myself love wearing it for a lot of occasions. It is suitable for both work and play. With its beauty and elegance, it is made to suite the Indian body type. One can experiment with colours, designs and different styles to perfectly team it up for college, work and even a party.

salwaar kameez

My questions here are- Is it alright to impose salwar-kameez or kurta-churidars on young school girls? Is it important to mandate it at all the work places? Is it suitable for all the professions? Are “kurtis” and “salwars” the only dress in which one can look descent? Is it comfortable for all? Can it help reduce the number of rapes and crimes on women? Do women have the freedom to dress the way they want?

It has been my observation that many schools these days have banned young girls from wearing skirts and tunics as school uniforms. They have to wear a legging below their skirts; the schools have successfully  transformed their so called “western skirts” into “salwar-kameez”. I don’t know exactly how this helps. Asking young school girls to follow this dress code implies nothing but idiocy. Many say that this sort of a dress is comfortable and loose to move around.

“I am a girl and I don’t find it comfortable!”

I am a physiotherapist by profession, and ever since I got admitted to this course I was always asked to follow a dress code. Throughout my education, it was mandatory for me to wear “salwaar” and “kurti” along with a lab coat. Frankly, taking the weather into consideration, the hot and humid winds of central India coupled with the task of exercising with patients, and going from place to place in order to keep people fit- the salwar-kameez code does not go well and I do not like wearing it. I believe in dressing decently; I understand my profession and I understand that I have to deal with a wide range of people, yet I am unable to figure out how salwaar-kameez helps in this process.

In a conversation:
Scene: All across the hospital, men, including students and staff, are freely roaming in shirts and pants. Some are in tight pants and slim fit shirts without a lab-coat, while women all around are expected to wear salwaar kameez and dupatta along with a lab-coat.

Person A (a bold beautiful girl): Why are women supposed to wear lab coats while men don’t? Why are only women expected to dress “Indian” with dupattas?
Person B (mostly a misogynist and a male chauvinist): Because women need to protect their assets.

You might be wondering why this girl is discussing a mere issue of dressing and how does this have an effect when we all love our traditional salwaar-kameez. What exactly is the point?

My point is gender inequality, rapes, crimes on women, the way women are treated with what they choose to dress! Women even today have to follow these lame dress codes because the administration feels this sort of dressing can prevent perverts from attacking women.

No matter if it is the best of the universities and institutions; they will still focus on dressing women appropriately than controlling men. Caught without a dupatta, wearing tight leggings or short kurtis is also punishable for women in many institutions and universities even today while men wearing tight pants, slim fit shirts, body hugging western clothes, are acceptable. If the dress code is called “Indian” then aren’t men supposed to wear dhoti, lungi or loose white pyjamas? Isn’t that gender-equality? Why is it that women have to wear Indian attires? And why are men wearing western cloths so well accepted in the society? What goes wrong if a woman sports trousers, skirts and shirts? It is the joint decision of the administration in these institutions to impose dress codes. Not only men, but also women think it is important to protect young girls by covering them up and this is the only possible solution to help reduce crime rates.

Keeping women “dressed appropriately”, asking then to wear a dupatta to hide assets, blaming them for attracting men, blaming the western culture; all this reflects the patriarchal Indian society. A woman might just choose to wear hot-pants or skirts, and she’s not violating the culture. People who believe that the traditional Indian women wore salwar kameez need to read about the history of dresses worn in our country. Also how many of the salwar kameez preachers have seen kurti clad women in Harappan Civilization?

All those boasting about banning short-skirts, banning night clubs, keeping women covered, salwar-kameez dress codes and dupattas- I have just one last question; why was a six-year-old raped?

You must be to comment.
  1. atreya

    guys……………….as a teenager and a boy i just want u people to justify ur self which is more attaractive salarwarkammez or a short skirt and which is more figure defining ……………………definely salwar kameez ………..I dnt necessarily need to type more than this

    1. Paushali

      but clearly being attractive is not a priority most of the time..if you read the article at all, you would realise how
      uncomfortable it can be to many girls & when that makes you irksome (when added to a hot & humid climate), how it
      can contribute to more inefficiency. and figure defining! most of the working women out there wear something similar to
      what is shown in the picture (again, read the article for goddsakes!), and seriously your view shows a woman would wear
      only to get attention & that what you think of how she looks actually matters to her?! let her make her own decisions of what
      and not what to wear.

  2. Aman

    First of all there are 3 things here ..1) Rapist and Rape…Rapist does a rape because he is been provocated by women is completely a false hypothesis…As otherwise as mentioned by the author girls of the age of 6 or minors or girls belonging to low class would not have been got raped…..

    2) Thing is then why does such logics even come into picture …this is again because feminist speak like extremists without considering the sentiments of various religious sects and class in India who are bonded by patriarchy as a basic fundamental of there religions and FYI both men and women trust and believe these practices

    3) Imposition of a particular dress code is never one sided it is based on majority and mutual agreement of both the sectors of society…..To quote an example my daughter is 4 years old and goes to a play school…The school authorities have banned skirts for girls at such a small age …And you know why because there were parents who have asked them to do so…And they had to act accordingly….

    All and all we should not be mixing things up as rape as a crime is been condemned by every sector of society …But when matters are strecthed to far or when the society feels thag there trademark or there base existence of there religion is endagered thats when stupid logics are generated..An Appeal to a society to change is futile specially when you mix up the topics ..Then it becomes a topic of ignorance and endless debate in the end nothing changes

  3. Babar

    Parental responsibility does not just lie in treating their sons and daughters equally, it transcends much further. Parents who allow their daughters to wear what they want should not have children or need parenting lessons. Also, when girls become mothers, I am sure they don’t want to show pictures of their youth to their children, and boast about how much thigh they showed or how much cleavage they exposed. Even in the western world, in many schools and colleges, their are strict rules about what girls can and cannot wear. Also, many parents are more concerned about having their daughters cover up and not date rather than come home one day and tell their parents that they are pregnant.

    Or maybe we should not ruin women’s lives by telling them what to wear as they are already ruining it by having multiple transient sexual relationships and indulging in promiscuous behavior in the name of liberation and emancipation. Also, with the promotion of plunging necklines, spandex pants, short skirts, tight jeans, tops so deep that when girls bend down accidentally they reveal a lot more than they intended – girls today are bent on showing the world their rights.

    1. Luiza

      “Even in the western world, in many schools and colleges, their are strict rules about what girls can and cannot wear.”

      Most of colleges around Europe, North America, Latin America don’t have any kind of uniform. I go wearing salwar kameez or lehenga for my choice, but I could wear shorts and tops without any problem.

      My opinion is that salwar kameez is way more suitable to Indian climate than jeans, for example, and it’s quite comfortable. The ridiculous thing is making it mandatory, as if other clothes were not appropriate – like loose skirts -, when men are required almost the opposite: wearing ‘western’ attires. And has anyone stopped to think that making salwar kameez a kind of national dress excludes many groups that had other traditional clothes? Why couldn’t it be South Indian half saree, for example?

  4. ashika

    I remember this incident that took place when I was being interviewed by a prestigious college in Bengaluru. I had dressed up in a formal skirt and top, while the rest of the students wore salwar kameez. At the end of the interview, they told me that I should follow the dress code inside the campus. When being questioned what it was, they told me that I should wear salwar kameez complete with a dupatta. Failure to dress up to the college standards will result in a severe fine being imposed. I expressed my discontent and said that women should have the freedom to dress up the way they want, and we are sensible enough to know the difference between decent and indecent. Well, the interview ended right there and I didn’t get selected. And this is said to be one of the top colleges in Bengaluru.

  5. Prashant Kaushik

    One thing I could never understand in my life is WHY ‘Freedom to dress you way’ matters sSO much and probably MORE than anything else for women?
    I have been a SCHOOL student, a COLLEGE goer, an MNC EMPLOYEE and through various stages I have been subjected to DRESS regulations. Though sometimes I might have found them funny or irrational but I never felt the need to protest at such high pitch as so many feminists keep doing accross this website or anywhere else.

    At WORKPLACE , women can wear Leggings, Jeans, Pants, Saree, skirt and several other I don;t even know what to call.
    For men, there are only 2 options – Pants(trousers) or Jeans.. I have never seen someone wearing half-pants or butt hugging jeans. And these restrictions are absolutely FINE with us. Men don’t just crib about such restrictions placed on them.
    Living in plains of north India, in the PEAK of May-June SUMMERS , I often wished if we guys could go to college in something like half pants, or Pajamas (Kurta Pajamas) etc. That option was NEVER available to us. Not a SINGLE guy I ever came accross who ever felt like fighting against these restrictions.

    I understand that patriarchy is rampant in society. Also, girls face various issues with regards to SAFETY which are beyond imagination of we guys. I also realize that conduct of a vast number of men is INAPPROPRIATE w.r.t. women.

    Still, Please don;t drag these critical issues every where. There is something called DISCIPLINE . There is a concept to look less distinctive than others. These are norms which are for everyone (with some minor variations).

    Lastly, I also think there are more VITAL questions which surround women today.
    Their LEGAL rights, their access to EDUCATION and Public Services, their UNEMPLOYMENT , their safety, fake marriages, domestic violence etc.

    Fighting against dress codes just takes the foucs away from many
    of these. Doesn’t it ?

  6. Bhawna

    I liked the article and arguments given here. My personal view is anything that compliments your personality is good. These ethnic dresses like saree, salwar kameez, lehenga, kurti etc. still have charm to millions of women like me and it will be there for long.

  7. madhushri

    Hello all,
    M not speaking from an extremists point here I just spoke about equality and how men in western formals are more accepted than women wearing the same (Pants and shirts). Also decency is accepted, off course I understand we don’t wan to b showing off thighs in office or work places. But decency can be achieved by wearing western formals for women as well. Salwar kameez need not b decent always. As said by ashika, its not that she wasn’t dressed appropriately but still she wasn’t selected. This is what is my problem that salwar kameez defines a woman in many sectors even today and at some places and in some professions it might not be appropriate as well.
    Coming to young school girls, banning them from wearing skirts and tunics is lame. And why do u think were they asked to cover up? Bcoz people still fear that crimes happen due to exposed female bodies. Or else what could b the reason of parents going to the school and asking to impose dress codes like these?
    I respect all religions and views put up over here.
    But when certain things are incorrect and doing no good we should raise a voice not as feminists but as “equalist” for the happiness of our sisters, mothers, wifes, girlfriends and young daughters. 🙂

  8. Saikat Kumar Mitra

    I like the article…. indeed a salwar kamez cannot prevent rapes.. otherwise peace keepers (our soldiers) wont rape kashmiri girls who always wears salwars and hijaab over the years after 2nd pakisthan war…

    Its about the patriarch mindset that men have that make them behave omnipotent which we need to fight…..

    Another perspective is time or opportunity (that comes with education and culture) which cn be attended by being at the right place at the right time in right sense until we get the mindset of developed nation

  9. mom of 3

    Though i agree with Madhushri here that salwar kameez is not the only way women can look decent, but I agree with Babar and Prashant more.
    I am so glad that schools have salwar kameez for older girls now. I never enjoyed the skirt and always felt conscious of it in school and commuting to it.
    About one of the commentor’s rejection of admisdion, it could have been more to do with her rejection to follow the college’s dress code than her dressing. They dont want to know what you r beliefs are, theymight wear other outfits themselves but when a school, college or workplace has a dress code youdont argue for women’s right to dresss.
    Additionally i feel men would love to have more options too and skinnyjeans for male students should also not be allowed.

  10. mom of 3

    Though i agree with Madhushri here that salwar kameez is not the only way women can look decent, but I agree with Babar and Prashant more.
    I am so glad that schools have salwar kameez for older girls now. I never enjoyed the skirt and always felt conscious of it in school and commuting to it.
    About one of the commentor’s rejection of admisdion, it could have been more to do with her rejection to follow the college’s dress code than her dressing. They dont want to know what you r beliefs are, theymight wear other outfits themselves but when a school, college or workplace has a dress code youdont argue for women’s right to dresss.
    Additionally i feel men would love to have more options too and skinnyjeans for male students should also not be allowed

  11. Sreevarsha

    I liked the article, it presents a valid point. I have felt the same way a number of times when we were subjected to the so called ‘Indian attiring syndrome’ in high school and college.

    I’d like to raise another point , regarding this article. Youth ki Awaaz has a wide readership (I live n Austria, and I follow it religiously). Therefore it is downright irresponsible to publish articles with spelling and grammatical errors. This is not the first time I’ve noticed this. Please pay closer attention before publishing next time.

  12. vansh

    1) Why do you want to expose your 36-24-36 to men? Is there a special reason to expose your breast.

    2) Decency seriously. Just see a young girl sitting these days. Her hips are often clearly visible. That is not worth masturbating for. It rather makes us vomit.

    3) Most young girls are often unattended by their mothers and stay naked half the time. Have you not seen that.

    4) Why do you put locks at home? The thief can anyway break the locks and stael goods. Then avoid those harrison locks and similar gadgets. Obviously one must exercise caution at our end.

    5) Is it the ease of concensual sex that western women wear shorts???? Because a large number of rape cases in india are actually of consensual sex and the girl having got pregnant files a false case now claiming innocence. Check the statistics. It's the court procedings that tell the true story.

    As elders often rightly say Sharm heen aurat ka sabse bada gehna hota hain. Sharma karo aur consensual sex karkar ladko ko fasana band karo. Kam se kam bacho ke bare mein soch lo. Because I saw Wolf of the wall street recently.

    6) There is something called decency, shame and moral attitude. Half of you have your cleavage, hips and other parts clearly visibly through extremelly low T shirts, absence of dupatta, loose shirts with buttons. Don't you feel ashamed about yourself? A man never shows his penis or even his hairy chest so openly. And if he does, that's wrong.

    Obviously men and women have different bodies, hence they need different attire. Women's body is more curvaceous.

    I hope I have freedom of speech. Nahi toh yeh feminist kahi mujhe na phasa de jooth mooth mein.

    1. Genelia

      Absolutely Agreed. Women today have forgotten the shame, decency and culture. Wish if some one could treat these idiots.

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