…is everybody’s business.
A woman once asked if my husband and in laws did not object to my wearing sleeveless blouses with saris. She was not being rude, she really could not imagine how any in-laws, could be okay with sleeveless blouses. My mother wears sleeveless blouses, so I could not understand how sleeveless blouses could be found objectionable.
We have so many Indias that what may appear ‘too much exposing‘ to one Indian might be just fine for another. I think we Indians really need to learn to live and let live, especially when it comes to what women wear.
A woman’s clothing is used to control her. What she wears is treated like a symbol of her respect for tradition, culture, family values, religion, family honor etc. Nobody notices that clothing should be comfortable for this wearer too.
In hot, humid weather, some married women (mainly in joint families) have to keep their hair covered all the time (specially in North India)… How does covered and sweat-soaked hair at 40 degrees Celsius protect a culture or show respect? Isn’t wrapping of heads in pallus and dupattas during the summer months uncomfortable, and even unclean?
In winters the sari is not the most comfortable thing to wear. Imagine washing clothes wearing a sari in cold winters at less than 9 degrees Celsius? And women do this all the time.
Sari is also difficult to wash, dry and iron, which is why we find beautiful cotton saris replaced with synthetic ones amongst those who wear it the most. These synthetic saris are also responsible for many fire accidents in the kitchen.
I feel eventually the gorgeous sari will be worn like lehengas, sherwanis, and formal gowns, mainly at festive and formal occasions. But many Indians think wearing a sari is the only way to be a virtuous bhartiya nari. Bollywood reinforces this.
Some Indians disagree, they think the sari exposes too much. A larger number thinks salwar kurta is too modern, most Indian women are not allowed to wear salwar kurta once they are married.
Some think skirts are wrong, some think jeans are wrong.
Denim jeans, easy to maintain and move about in, are practical and versatile. Jeans can look Indian when teamed with a Khadi kurta. A pair of jeans can be an inexpensive way to dress comfortably. When one has small kids nothing can beat the convenience of a pair of comfortable jeans (sometimes cropped into capris or shorts).
But jeans, when worn by women, are seen as a threat to Indian culture.
This is difficult to understand because all other Indians can wear whatever they find comfortable without threatening the survival of their culture.
Only when it comes to women, do we excuse violent criminals if they claim the woman was not suitably clothed.
Edited to add: All teachers except women can do their job well enough in a sari?