3.8.07

More Randomness

This isn't really a fashion post (the last few haven't been either), but as far as I can tell, my nationality hasn't ever really been something I pay much attention to on this space, except for the occasional rant about the ineptitudes of Indian 'fashion gurus'. With the odd exception. But my wardrobe is completely devoid of traditional clothing, or even 'Indian-looking' clothes of most kinds (basically, kurtas a.k.a. those long loose tunics with slits up the sides). If I had to figure out just why I don't own/wear them, it would probably boil down to the fact that
a) They're long tops, mid-thigh on an average, and mostly made of extremely wrinkle-prone cotton. Why on earth would I want to spend the five minutes that are all that constitute my getting-ready-without- being-late-to- class time in the morning ironing a massive expanse of fabric that needs jeans worn underneath it? I'd understand taking the trouble for a dress, but dresses over jeans (which is how most college-age people here wear their kurtas - over jeans) aren't really my thing since the fact of having all that cloth flapping around my legs isn't all that happy a prospect. As for saris, they're lovely but too inconvenient to be worn on a daily basis - try winding six yards of cloth around yourself in pleats and moving around in it, you'll see what I mean.
b)
The whole notion that ethnic clothes (Indian ones, that is) make girls look 'pretty'. I don't mind pretty, but hearing someone (female) make that observation and looking around my classroom on a day when most of the girls happened to be dressed that way- I couldn't help thinking about just how alike it made them all look- pretty all right, but entirely too demure for me ever to want to look that way. I could feel the change in my own appearance when I wore one, and it's almost like having a different personality forced over your head- not a personality I'm very comfortable with, either- it feels like the outfit's wearing me instead of the other way round.
c) It's probably all wrong in my head, but the number of times I have worn anything even vaguely ethnic-looking in my life can be counted on the fingers of two hands. I grew up between school uniforms (which consisted of shirts and pleated skirts) and street clothes inevitably consisted of t-shirts with jeans or skirts after I was too old to wear frocks- and in a lot of ways, my cupboard today isn't all that different from what it was five or even ten years ago, so is it really strange that after I was out of school I just kept on wearing the things I was used to?
I'm not quite sure what's bringing this on, but the fact remains that on my next-to-microscopic college campus (my college has a grand total of four hundred students) as well as in the community I come from in which minding your own business is a concept that doesn't exist, our sartorial choices are not things that escape comment. It isn't as if enough of us don't wear different things, but what I fail to understand is why someone else must see my choices as an aberration or an affront to his culture/concept of culture. Or even, seeing them that way (I can't change people's minds for them, can I?) what on earth gives them the right to say so?

10 comments:

Emma said...

You're completely genius. I think you could write a thesis on this or something.
"not a personality I'm very comfortable with, either- it feels like the outfit's wearing me instead of the other way round."
brilliant.
And you're right, why should you have to conform to an image you don't like just because it's your culture?

susie_bubble said...

I too don't feel the need to WEAR my culture/ethnicity or to have it exist in my wardrobe with the exception of supporting designers from Hong Kong....

I'd like to applaud you for this post....

ambika said...

Being a million ethnicities (well 4) means I don't have to deal with this particular issue. I think you voice your concerns with it--and even just the pratical nature of some of your reasoning--very well.

I don't want to comment too strongly because I think this is highly personal but that's exactly the stance *everyone* should take. What you wear is your concern, not the random person on the street who you think you don't look [insert adjective] enough.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Thanks for the response, guys...I actually thought this post was going to slip through the cracks as just another rant.
I suppose clothing is a bit of a contentious issue all over India precisely because of the connotations of choice- some people do see my rejection of trad clothing as a result of so-called Anglicisation (which is apparently what a dislike of Bollywood and contempt for the average Delhiite amount to). And unfortunately, the idea that a girl in non-trad clothes is 'asking for it' if she's subjected to sexual harassment on the street is far too prevalent- police manuals on safety actually advise women not to wear what they call 'provocative' clothing. And it's just something I can't keep shut about, ranty though it may seem.

blushing apples said...

I had no idea about your ethnicity, but as already said no one should be obligated to wear their own culture customs. When dressing no one should be reflectd but its own personality, i very much agree & love this post! :D my new url: http://thecolorofblushingapples.blogspot.com/

Perakath said...

Missing the point, but girls do look very pretty in kurta-jeans.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Point is, if I don't want to wear it I needn't, and if I don't it's none of anyone else's business. And I don't particularly care for that brand of pretty.

Yohan said...

Haha. Just got back home (which is Coonoor) from Kerala - the land where people can't mind their own business. At least the food is good!

I like the occasional ethnic twist, although I myself wore that stuff only for Onam in College. I'm thinking of getting a kurta here, since in the US the kurta-and-jeans combo is devoid of any communist innuendo.

NLS is tiny eh? Everyone knows everyone and all?

Perakath said...

Must be like rez...

Yeah Yohan a few kurtas would provide conversation material as well.. take some lungis too... comfy to boot!

That Student said...

I remember reading about the sexual harassement in India, and the whole "she's asking for it" thing really bugged me. I understand that slightly revealing clothes can garner its own attention, but how does that merit full-on assault? I was really close to yelling at the newspaper when I read that.

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