A conversation with a friend about “What a woman wears matters” reminded me about a topic that was discussed a few days ago “Why women want to reveal their body parts and why do women wear revealing clothes“. I can look at this question from different angles. Is it just “our” as in Indian women that wear revealing dresses? The answer is “No”. Women all around the world do. So, why do they do it? Also do men not wear revealing clothes? Do men not wear Speedos? Do men not wear tight shorts? Do men not walk around topless? Why are they not questioned? Let us look at this a little deeper.
When a teenager wears a short skirt or hot pants it is her expression of what she feels at that time about herself. That is all that is there to it. As a parent/sister/friend all we can do is help her in realizing that her self-worth is beyond wearing such clothes.
What purpose does clothing serve? Something that a person wears will fall in the “practicality” category or “makes me look good/attractive” category! For eg, when I am working on some DIY project and I don’t want to have loose clothing hanging around and protect myself completely I would wear overalls, or when I am going for a swim in the pool I wear my swimming clothes this is practicality and when I am going to a wedding I dress up in my best clothes so that I will look good. I cannot wear silk saree and swim and I cannot wear swimming clothes for a wedding. If I am wearing hot pants in Italy for Italian summer, then I am not the odd one out, but If I wear the same hot pants in India for Indian summer, then surely I am out of place! Actually, it is not about wearing revealing clothes, it is more about wearing the right clothes in the right place for the right occasion and looking graceful. So where do women wearing revealing clothes in the wrong place fit into all this?
The general thought is that when a woman wears clothes that don’t fit the occasion, she is looking for attention, usually that of the opposite sex. Everyone seeks attention and there is nothing wrong in seeking attention but is this the right way to do it? Everyone wants to feel good and want people to like them. Each one chooses a different method.
Wearing revealing dresses with an intention to attract usually comes with women who do not have self-confidence or who haven’t been taught that they are worth much more than just their body! Sometimes parents/school/work is too controlling, instead of commanding if parents try and talk to a teenager about what is right and what is wrong and how a woman can wear certain types of clothes for parties and discos but that wouldn’t be suited for wear otherwise might help. When everyone is forcing a girl, all she wants to do is break the law. Many teenage girls look out to their parents for guidance not for reprimanding and breaking their self-confidence. It is a parent’s responsibility to teach positive body image and that she is unique and she can look good in her own unique way, she need not follow what the world thinks is “hot” for her to look good! Sometimes a lot of shaming and bullying also leads to this. When a woman is shamed for being too fat/thin/whatever… or when someone is bullied they are looking for ways to get positive affirmations from people around them to make them feel good. This may result in wearing revealing clothes too.
Another point to think about is what we call fashion! Fashion keeps changing regularly. Girls and women change their style of dressing based on what the latest fashion is! Everyone likes to look good and be appreciated for it! But the problem is that fashion doesn’t suit everybody! What suits a thin woman might actually look quite uncomfortable on a curvaceous woman. Nobody is doing themselves a favor by wearing clothes that don’t suit them whether it is the latest fashion or not. When we are talking about fashion, throw in a bit of peer pressure.
A thumb rule I go for is that if I have to keep touching my clothes to adjust it, or if I don’t feel comfortable physically or mentally wearing it, then I don’t wear it in public. When we touch our clothes in public, I feel we are actually attracting attention to us. There are people who can wear tight short skirts and sleeveless tops and look graceful in it and there are people that can wear a saree and make it look odd.
Last but not least, sometimes it is just what they feel like wearing. Sometimes we all get into one of those moods, tight jeans, a loose t-shirt on top and off we go, it is just that we are not in a mood to put that effort to dress to the occasion.
For those who think wearing revealing clothes is about feminism, I am sorry to say that is not true! You can be a feminist in whatever clothes you wear, be it a hijab or shorts!
Whatever it is, please do not shame a woman for how she looks and what she is wearing. Also, if you think a woman’s clothing is making you lose your self-control then leave the place! In the end in spite of what a woman wears, she needs to be treated with respect. Just because a woman wears revealing clothes it doesn’t give the man a license to touch, molest or rape her.