Sunday, 16 June 2013

The salwaar-kameez girls

She must be homely, simple, may not be talking to men-are all common judgments we make only because a girl prefers to adorn a salwaar-kameez instead of a pair jeans and a t-shirt, don’t we?
Walking by in a salwaar-kameez is all that it takes to call her a ‘behenji’. Although the true meaning of the word is ‘sister’ and the ‘ji’ suffix is used as a mark of respect; its derogatory meaning is what has become more popular over the years. A salwaar-kameez clad, non-party goer who follows the values of no drinking or smoking sincerely is what a behenji is these days. And haven't we all once awhile judged someone and titled them a ‘behenji’? 
Stereotyping obviously affects the victim of the stereotype in ways known to everyone. But, do we ever realize that by ridiculing traditional outfits, we are in a way laughing at our own culture? Since eons, Indian women have dressed in everything from sarees to salwaar-kameez, to ghagras and the works; it is only thanks to globalization that western outfits are the ‘it’ thing. 
Stereotyping is leading young women to shy away from wearing Indian garments and soon, our culture would’ve been forgotten by the generations to come.
Walk into any college and you will find that girls in traditional clothes are alienated and not allowed to hang out with those who call themselves “modern”. Peer-pressure takes a toll if one amongst the group is a ‘behenji’ and the ‘we are grown-ups’ phrase is conveniently forgotten when it comes to bullying.
It is often said, ‘what you wear is a reflection of what you are’. The statement is confusing in many ways. 
One, who decides what kind of clothes portray a particular characteristic of a person? 
Two, isn’t ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ a far more true saying than the one above? 
For many, fashion is what they feel comfortable in, it is an individual choice and in that regard clothes are something one can associate oneself with. Drawing assumptions and ridiculing someone over what they wear, is extremely immature.
The 'salwaar-kameez girls' are also often assumed to be shy and slow. People often misjudge them as not tech-savvy and unknown to contemporary fashion, art, lifestyle et al.
People often also assume that a girl in an Indian getup will hold age-old traditional values of being homely, shy and not talk to men, help around at home, not party or hang out with friends and so on. However, people forget that clothes do not define behaviour or a person’s likes and dislikes. A “fashionable” young woman could also be an introvert.
 So why do girls who can opt to wear a pair of pants, skirts or dresses prefer to remain traditional? The reasons are many ----- Fashion is a subjective concept, it isn't necessary that everyone is able to associate themselves with western outfits; denims honestly are uncomfortable during the hot Indian summer and shorts, dress or a skirt are no match to a light-coloured cotton salwaar-kameez that one can simply slip into; or maybe they are too grounded to their Indian roots and are proud to dress traditionally. Regardless of the reason, the concept of judging someone only because of their clothes is very immature.

And while you are at it, I'll also request you to analyze your wardrobe. You may have some hidden skeletons too.