Monday, October 28, 2013

Is it okay to wear this?

A little while ago when I was browsing on Facebook, a post titled 'Girl you wear shorts? :-O ' caught my attention. The emoticon at the end of the title struck me as particularly though provoking.

After I read the piece I couldn't resist writing a comment.  (click on the above link to read the piece as well as my comment).

It took me back to a time when I was 23. I had just met Satish. We were to get married soon. Among the many things that I asked him, I remember this the most.
"There is something I want to ask you."
"Do ask," he said. (He would tell me many years later that, by the seriousness  of my tone and demeanor , he presumed I was going to confess that I already had a boyfriend)
 "Is it okay if I wear shorts?"

Reading the post took me back to that time---the time where I was conditioned to think that what I wore had to be *approved* by the guy I was getting married to. It wasn't about my choice--it was about whether he thought it was okay or not. That is what I had been conditioned to believe.

I wonder to this day, how I would have reacted had Satish said that he wasn't okay with it. Would I have stopped wearing shorts? (an attire I was most comfortable in, and which remains my preferred attire to this day)

As women, we all want to look good, attractive, sexy. I guess not just women, even the men want to look great too ( Men as sex objects-- a trend which I saw being reflected  well in a bollywood flick. For once it wasn't about women--I liked that.)

But I don't see too many men asking their wives or girlfriends, "Is it okay if I wear shorts?" It seems to be taken for granted that men  know what to wear, and women have to 'seek approval'. (be it from society or parents or boyfriends or even other women)

I know a lot of married women in India, have to dress in a certain manner (whether it is out of their choice or not) because their  in-laws and husbands will not otherwise approve. This aspect of the Indian society does find it's way into my writing too. In my new book 'The One You Cannot Have', Shruti who is a young urban professional, who wears mostly skirts and trousers to work, faces this issue when her mother-in-law and father-in-law visit her.

I do believe that if you are an adult, living on your own and you are not financially dependent on your parents, you have a right to decide what to wear. You may choose to wear a saree  when you go to a temple and a pair of shorts or a  short dress when you go to a mall. You may decide to wear a salwar kameez when you go and visit an old aunt, and you may decide to wear a short skirt and killer heels, for a night out at the pub. The point I am trying to make it that it is  *Your choice.* You know what is appropriate to wear.

Nobody has the right to tell you what to wear and not wear---not your cousin, not your husband, not your best friend.

And wearing a saree does not make one a great individual, than wearing a pair of shorts makes you 'cheap'. Recently Kim Kardashian faced a lot of flak, for posting a picture of herself in a bikini, after she became a mother.

*Behave like a mother with a baby at home* seemed to be the gist of most criticisms. How does posting a picture of herself in a bikini have anything to do with motherhood?! Does Kim Kardashain become a bad mother because of what she wears? 

Definitely not.

I think it is high time we stop trying to shame people because of their attire. If you don't like it, don't look. And if you think it is cheap or inappropriate, then perhaps it is time to introspect and look within.


Picture clicked yesterday. I am wearing a dress that I like a lot.


Addendum:

I got a mail from a reader which i thought was worth sharing--especially as she talks of women 'Slut shaming' other women. So relevant. So true.  Here is the message I got:


Just read your post "Is it okay to wear this?" Messaging you here as I'm unable to comment from an openid. It really speaks to the double standard that men seldom have to ask themselves that question in the context of moral decency. One particular instance I vividly recall was when I was in high school in and got weird looks and comments for wearing a knee length skirt--from men who were wearing lungis hitched up high and short. This whole chastising people for what they wear thing is just another way of men controlling women, and sadly, women are just as much to blame when they "slut shame" other women. As a friend of mine recently pointed out- there's no male equivalent for "slut". Really appreciate your speaking up on this.

__________________________________________________________________



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45 comments:

  1. Lady - have you still not figured out men by now ??? The reason they don't ask their wives "permission" to wear stuff is simply because they have nothing controversial to wear. You see degrees of freedom dictate everything - not to catch the eye of another man :)

    So choices for we men are

    - baggy shorts that look like kachchas
    - baggy t shirts that were made for the size of a 700 lbs man
    - maybe lungis (drawn up into half ) !!
    - shirts whose collars have frayed long back
    etc etc :):):)

    Of course you are right. Wear what you want and who the hell is anybody to say anything ......

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    1. :)
      Yes Ramesh. men have a *limited* choice and not controversies :) Also women don't look at men that way I guess ;)
      So many women *want* wear something of their choice--but *what will society say* and *my husband* won't approve etc is what holds them back.

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  2. You're right! Women should have the liberty to wear what they are 'comfortable' in. What others wear, that's none of anyone's business! It's your manner, kindness, honesty, virtue (overall goodness of your personality) that makes you a better person not your attire. Wake up people!:)

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  3. Wear what you want, but make sure it doesn't spread pink eye. This is applicable for both men and women. Have mercy on the hapless onlookers.

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    1. What is Pink eye Kiran? :) Please enlighten!! :)
      Green eye i have heard. But pink eye?

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  5. I simply loved this post of yours. I never stop by to comment while am in office but this made to comment. Yesterday this was the topic I and my boy friend argued about. He wasn't comfortable with a girl's saree since he felt it was awkward and slutty ti be precise. I on the other hand felt that the saree was perfectly alright and just that she wasn't carrying it properly. Any how even am wondering the same as you were wondering; what if my boyfriend hadn't allowed me to wear what I like!! Thank god that's not the case. The only thing he told me is wear dresses based on your surroundings for instance not to wear a shorts or pyjama to temple etc which i already follow thus no issues and happy as a Girl Friend but as woman I feel not all girls are getting free-thinking and non nose poking boyfriends or husbands. I pity them and that's what I can do at the maximum :(

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    1. The point I was making is nobody has a right to *allow* or *now allow*. Your boyfriend should not have a say in what is *slutty* and *non-slutty* . It should be the woman's choice.

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    2. Yeah i got your point but he was arguing that how did her husband *allow* her to wear such an outfit which is why i felt that it was inappropriate on his path to *comment* about that

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    3. If a man says wearing shorts is slutty, he must soon be dumped!!

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  6. Well good topic to discuss on!! BUT preeti , it has been a kind of tradition now that women needs permission for few things.First our parents takes our decision and later in lawss and husband replace them. What we want noone thinks ! What is apt for us they decide for us and one such thing is our Attire!! Once i had wore one piece and had travelled by train, and men gazing at me was a big irritation. Some were just cheap !At that time i got i have to forget to wear shorts in country like India because India had got freedom long back but women yet have to face many problems and take shitty comments from people around. They have to take permission for things. Long back i had even blogged how every women feels about it. Here it goes.


    I forgot I am a girl,
    Every action of mine is noticed ,
    Every steps I take is decided by others.
    I forgot I am a girl!
    I dont have rights to be "MYSELF"
    My academics, career is decided by others,
    My choices are controlled,
    I forgot I am a girl!
    I have to dress according to the men around,
    I am told that my attires will evoke man's desire,
    I can be raped because of  short skirts and sleeveless dress,
    I am accused of my own rape,
    I am accused to tempt men towards me
    I forgot i am a girl!
    I  am victimized by male's evil torture,
    I am killed through their mere gaze,
    I feel like slapping them hard, hit their groins,
    But i fear they are more powerful than me physically,
    I fear I may become victim to their thirst,
    I forgot I am a girl!
    They worship me in form of Goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kali, Parvati,
    On other hand, I  brutally fall prey to a man's hunger,
    They not only rape me physically,
    But they emotionally tear me apart.
    I forgot i am a girl!
    I go through this immense loss, physical and mental trauma,
    Still i am the one who is always blamed for my condition today.!
    I forgot i am a girl...!!!!
    -HETA GALA

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  7. Can very well connect with you Preeti! I rememeber in the early days of my wedding, my MIL especially wasnt quite comfy with my nite pants! She used to always make a fuss out of it and some how i used to ignore it quite a lot after which she even got used to..But even today when she sees me in skirts and gowns i dont think shes happy..she keep giving me grimming looks and what not!

    I completely agree with you on the clothing aspect! It def does not make any one bad because of their dressing! Its completely up to them on what they wear provided the thin difference between being Stylish rather to provacative is maintained!!!!

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  9. Its really sad that many men do think its their right or worse, their duty to ensure that women who they are with dress conforming with their ideologies. This is not done,and neither is it in anyway right. Many a times, I have had friends tell me, my boyfriend/husband doesnt really like it if I wear x,y,z... I have never commented on it, but I know its something which exists and only if the woman believes what she wears is her wish, can this attitude change. This belief is what many women lack, they strive to please ... maybe a bit too much.

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  10. WEAR THE DRESS...WHICH YOU CAN CARRY REALLY WELL...IT IS IN ONE'S OWN FAVOUR!!! OPINION MATTERS ONLY FROM THOSE WHO REALLY CARE FOR YOU... OTHERS..."PLEASE EXCUSE...:D"

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  11. wonderful topic Preeti... you have touched all aspects...

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  12. :) Preeti, this title 'Is it ok to wear this?' made me to read it. I don't think there will be any woman/girl out there who will not connect to this in some way or the other. I too have faced the same and I believe, some where we ourselves are to blame for this, because we are happy to be the victim. Some time ago, when I was to be made the victim of the double standard view of our society I wrote - I Refuse To Be A Victim (http://geevika.blogspot.in/2013/06/i-refuse-to-be-victim.html)
    We should stopping thinking of the what the people will say and should wear what we feel comfortable in. And of course, it is the hypocrisy of our society to judge a woman by her attire.

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  13. Preeti,a woman has the freedom to wear what she wants to,and when she is married,obviously she knows where she needs to draw the line.. and to comment on ur dress,this blue gown suits you well!! :)

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  14. Thanks mam for writing a post about it.. I actually wrote it to portray the views about wearing shorts and how the Indian women who wear them are considered as cheap! I hope more readers read this post and can relate to what you have written and I hope this society "tries" to change! :)

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  15. After we cross age of 18, we can vote & elect a govt to decide "future" of our country, get married to person of our choice, also choose a career of our liking, but WE GIRLS NEED AN *APPROVAL* ON OUR DRESS CODE...from people related or not related to us...wonder how does that makes any sense 2 our society ?

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  16. Very Nice Post!!! As teenagers maybe we have to listen to our parents. Like I was never allowed to wear sleeveless before marriage. But once u are at an adult you have full rights to decide what to wear and what not. We females do not need approval from each and every member for all aspects of our lives..
    Its sad but true that in most of the families females as daughters or daughter-in-laws have to wear clothes which family members approve bcoz dat is "family culture, tradition & most absurd being a way of showing respect to elders". Females have to cover their heads with pallu of the saree to show their respect to elders but in the same families male members don't cover their head as a token of respect!!!!
    http://shilpikarnani.blogspot.in/

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    1. Yes--men should also wear shawls and cover their head as a mark of respect :D Then we are quits :)

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  17. Very nice. My daughter was discouraged from wearing shorts by my conservative family when she was 7. Trust me, just 7. I opposed this nonsense tooth and nail and had to insist upon NOT telling her things like, "Remember you are a girl...". At 15 today, she wears what she loves to.

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    1. We need more men like you! Well done! Felt wonderful to read this.

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  18. 'It's a fact , my MIL also did the same , she was insisting on sarees, and would pass cheap comments on wearing jeans.. forget shorts .I have noticed her appreciating heroines in movie , when they show their skin though . That's what it is all about , Double standards (like Double dhol) .. they are plain jealous.
    They cant wear something , they will ensure no one else wears it ..
    She wears sleeveless blouse and has short hair , and she feels that makes her modern , wonder how , because the thoughts are as cheap as they would be no matter what one show cases . It's all in mind , specially of a woman towards another woman . I have had instances where in women on seeing me in skirt or a short hairdo , cant stand it , and pass comments .. so this is not new .
    as long as she wears a saree , she becomes homely :) and a woman of virtue !!

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    1. I have no idea why people think it is okay to comment on another's clothes, weight gain/loss etc. It simply is not. And what it with attire and 'modern' thinking?! My grandmother never wore anything other than a saree, yet i would call her thinking much more 'modern' than many others. You are so right when you say 'It is all in the mind'.

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  20. Learning to live life happily:)3:36 PM
    Hi preeti,its really nice topic for which you raised voice.l wanted to share my experience long back about the same.lt was freshers party my batch was hosting for junior batch.l wore skirt which was just above the knee.The moment i entered party hall few guys started shouting mini mini.That was comment about my skirt length,basically they dint know the difference between mini skirt n above the knee length skirt ,n whatever it was who were they to comment.On the top of all this few girls f my batch also passed some comments.Those were medical students intelligent still orthodox thinking.I hope those who have this kind of thinking will live n let other people live happily.God bless.All the best to you for TOUCH:-)

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    1. Good Lord--how silly those guys were! How does it matter whether it is a midi or a mini or a maxi. It is your wish!
      Thanks so much for the wishes--much appreciated.

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    2. Hey preeti thanks for the reply.Your reply maid my evening:)

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  21. Preeti, I just completed your book (LIWM) Life Is ........ my 1st by an author called Preeti Shenoy and its a WOW. I went through a similar trauma of loving a guy (RA) and agreeing to marry him and later on backed out for a reason (I was married to a violent husband, had 2 kids and was contemplating suicide when this guy came in my life). RA was a very quiet single guy and I used to find myself getting glued to his words (RA never made advances, infact it was the other way round). when we got close, RA's mom happily accepted me and kids, but being married and bound to society pressure I backed out of marrying him. RA then turned to drinking and eventually went ahead and committed suicide. how do I live with that??? But I managed. I still couldn't cope with the abuse at home and started looking for male companies to talk to (I never slept with anyone apart from my husband) - but inspite of all that I still felt like a 'whore' (that's what my husb used to call me in his possessive / obsessive violence (verbal & physical) - and that was from the 1st day of marriage). so I wasn't a whore but I was made to feel one and that's when I used to get friendly with male colleagues just to mentally spite my husband.

    I was going through hell trying to justify my behavior and went up to be from 48kg to a 78 kg in less than 10 yrs of my marriage. I never went to an asylum (maybe I never went through severe depression to have been identified). but your book made me cry - nearly 10 yrs after RA's death. I did separate from my husband for nearly 6 yrs and then again we got back living together but life is not fun. the only sanity I have is my kids (my strength / my reason to stay alive). this is not relevant to your post but it is relevant to me!!! thanks for this book Preeti.

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    1. I am glad you got something out of my book.
      I wish you the very best.

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  22. Couldn't agree more on this. See it ever so often at work too. Its almost as if you have to justify why you are wearing something. That you like wearing something or are comfortable in it takes a back seat. Incidentally, just a couple of days back a certain "Satish" was up in arms against a comment made on the character of a lady who apparently dressed provocatively. Hats off to him as even I could not have argued as vehemently, questioning views and outlook of the man passing the comment. Thanks to men like him atleast things are changing now. I had it easier at home both pre and post marriage, but I know of gazillion women who simply don't have that freedom even in the confines of their home.

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  23. Not just the dress, society made women to dependant on every aspect. Men and parents decide on girl's dress, friendz, career and even life partners. Why she need life if every step of her decided by othez?

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  24. Wow, u look lovely. just love the color.
    You know this reminded me of an incident. When I was in 11th std and has never worn jeans till date, a male frnd asked me "What, if when u get married your husband tells u not to wear jeans, what will you do" and I said" If he does not like I will not wear"
    OH God what was I thinking, never ever do I want to be near anyone who asks me not to wear or do what I want to do.

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  25. Well, this is quite interesting. I always see people discussing the outcomes rather than causes. But before everything else, irrespective of any sex, any human's free-will is supreme. Its one thing which all living organisms have but we humans can exert our free-will on top of our nature. Animals and plants can't. Let me be a bit more clear. Any man or woman is free to his/her will on matters of food, behavior, dressing, lifestyle, etc.
    Now, coming to this issue, and having traveled almost across the globe, what I have come to understand by experience now which the great Kautilya (Chanakya) had said centuries ago. Any man/woman should adapt to his/her environment as per the TIME, PLACE and the prevailing Situation. That's the most appropriate and intelligent rule or advise to follow for your food, cloths, behavior, lifestyle and everything else related to exercise of our free-will to live and lead our life our way. There is no point playing drums in a land of deafs and then keep complaining that no one's listening.
    What I mean to say is instead of opposing the flow one should flow with the flow. There is no point shouting and professing the supremacy of Indian food/culture/clothes to an American and vice-versa. Its as normal to wear bikinis (or walking nude) on streets of San-Francisco as is wearing lungis or sarees on Indian streets.

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    1. Hi.. I was really brought to an attention mode when I read your comment. I truely agree with the fact you have put here.... These days people are in the fight back mode.... Be it in any context, Women safety is the biggest issues these days. The aptly said statement, was about what you mentioned about chankya's say..."Any man/woman should adapt to his/her environment as per the TIME, PLACE and the prevailing Situation."
      I believe its really important to be safe, feel safe and secured then why blame others... why not take the first step, by adapting yourself according to the environment.

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    2. Hi, thanks for the positive feedback. Actually my whole comment is spread in three posts one after the other due to the word limit restrictions per comment. Thanks again, I feel good to know that you find some value in my thoughts.

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  26. I know women are in a very sad state, thanks to us MCPs, all over the world, especially in our part of the world but more or less its almost same everywhere. Why? didn't women get raped, abused and beaten in the west? Hell yes, its just as same as here or anywhere else.
    The problem is not with clothes; the problem is with the underlying thought process, the root evil. Rest all of us are the byproducts of this evil. We don't even exist as an individual, but a part of the bigger matrix, making us do, believe and behave as per its will. Why we see generations after generations the very same problems persist, no matter how many revolutionists, NGOs and eminent writers like you keep raising opposition. Its good to protest but its useless to beg, shout or demand a deaf person (the prevailing underlying evil-the root cause) to appreciate the music of your Kitaro Drums. This root evil has not emerged just all of a sudden. Its a conditioning of ages, its the erosion of generations, and its the cycle of life and it will give birth to something else.
    What makes you think that in a particular part of world, known as India, its very scandalous only for women to wear or behave or act against the system. The same would go for men as well. Just imagine men wearing an Irish Skirt or anything else which is not as per the set standards of the society here. Only women have been victimized, for all odd reasons, they feel more vulnerable and which is okay as well to feel that way.
    I may not sound very forward guy but its truth and more reasonable to stay indoors when fire is falling from sky no matter how much my free will asks me to go and jog in the park. Same goes here too, its better to stay covered in a sex-starved country than exercising our free will to wear shorts. But mind you, it will still not guarantee that one will not get raped by doing this as rape comes from an altogether different mind-set which has got nothing to do with the dressing sense of other, as women get raped in west as well, who are otherwise quite liberal about dressing (or even no clothes at all). But yes, it will save you from a lot of uncomfortable ogling and unpleasant situations. I better wear a bikini on streets of West and dhoti kurta on streets of India, until there is a sea change of underlying mindset honed over generations.
    But may be because I am a great follower of systems and because of my profession I have to get adapted fast as per the place, and finally because I am a man, I may not be a good person to make a point here on this situation which is specifically a situation faced majorly by women. But in the conclusion, I must say that judging a women merely by her clothes is as foolish as thinking that because its night that is why there is no Sun, but in realty its quite the opposite. There is night because the Sun is not here. We must try to bring the Sun here rather fighting the darkness.

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  27. Even if we talk in our parent's generations' terms, I find my wife more covered and at ease in moving around in a jeans and a tee. But somehow, strangely enough, my mother finds it other way round. She feels a woman is more covered in a saree what crap! total BS. Its just a way to manipulate someother's daughter. Its a control game not a clothing game. You take away ones freedom to wear, than eat than you make him your slave. What rubbish. Even my father thinks that his respect lies in my wife's headgear. I sometimes seriously worry or rather pity that how delicate is his respect, that even a small draft of air may throw his respect on ground lol. What height of absurdity. He is okay with the naked heads of his daughters but his respect goes to streets if his daughter in laws' heads are uncovered. Why, I really doubt there is something really wrong is one's integrity and morality. Your daughter is daughter but others daughter is not same in your eyes. Why your vision changes? She, who is also supposed to be your daughter, suddenly becomes a woman. Man I really doubt the character of these people!

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  28. Looking gorgeous to see... nice style. I would like to follow your fashion trends.

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  30. There was a lot to say, so I made a blog entry about it :

    http://ruchiodyssey.blogspot.in/2013/11/grown-out-of-my-diapers-let-me-decide.html

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  31. I am in complete agreement. Even from a bollywood point of view - "two states"
    That look Alia gets when she says she'll go for coffee in that pair of shorts and her boyfriend just turns around and walks off, and because of that from the next day she changes to wearing only kurtis with jeans or long skirts. She bade goodbye to shorts ad anything "expressive" almost immediately.

    Personally too, I have had my girls talk to me aboutthe way I dress up. I remember buying a pair of jeggings with flowers on them. They were Beige with maroon flowers, and bottle green leaves and I thought that could be used for a not too formal but deifinitely not casual get together or outing, and so I bought it, and one day, I wore them to college with a plain black top. The instant reaction of one of my girlfriends was "what the hell happened to your taste" and what I replied was *exactly*, down to every word, what you said. I said dude, I paid from *my* pocket money for these jeggings cuz I liked them, and I felt they suited me. So if you don't, like them, and think they're low class, don't look at them - simple. :)

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