The way a woman dresses…

…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?


137 thoughts on “The way a woman dresses…

  1. good one IHM…………..
    you are right….. people need to live and let others live as welll………..

    you mentioned “pallus and dupattas”……….. you did not mention the “purdah”………

    Didn’t the post make you think of ‘purdah’ straight away? OG the post is about ‘purdah’ and more.The restrictions stay even if the women are freed from literal ‘purdah’… our thinking is ‘purdah-centric’. All the talk of protecting women by covering them up implies that they are safe if they are covered up… and it is saddest when women who should be protesting believe that purdah protects. They really do believe that… they feel modest, ‘decent’ women are safe from abuse, and only characterless women who ‘expose’ are molested… 😦


  2. Welcome back, IHM. You were much missed 🙂

    The thing is even in the west, the type of clothes one wears stereotypes a person – into a nerd, homebody, promiscuous et al. In India, like you said, clothes define how traditional or ‘modern’ one is. Even those people who ‘pretend’ to be progressive have issues if their daughters-in-law wear jeans. Clothes should be strictly a matter of comfort and personal choice. Great post as usual.

    In India Mystic Margarita, it is more than just stereotyping, there is also compulsion, and it is mainly for women. We give women no choice in how they should look or dress. We decide for them… and those who decide are sometimes people like Meeta Jamal!


  3. Its really bothers me how in India so much emphasis is laid on dressing of the females in particular.. convenience and comfort is conveniently forgotten. place, event, weather appropriateness – nothing is important. i dont understand this.
    My inlaw’s neighbors were inquisitive to know who this girl is walking around in pants along with my FIL, coz she knew they dont have a daughter and how can the bahu be wearing what they saw her in and on top of that, going for a morning walk with the FIL.. big shame it seems!
    there are countless examples.. and when u see how differently bothered ppl are in western part of the world about clothing, while it perhaps has its negative side it definitely makes u wonder.

    And Tara these nosiest of people may not always be there when we really need them… most interesting is how the standards change according to convenience! (though I am glad for this flexibility)


    • Hi,
      I think this is a topic one can keep thinking about.
      Generalising everyone, we are talking exactly about how an older generation cannot accept new kind of comfortable clothing on the current generation. (be it burqa wearing condemning the non burqa wearing, in a still better situation like ours be it the sari/salwar wearing condemning the jean and top wearers, be it the jean wearing older generation in the west condemning the short skirt wearing current generation.
      What I’m tryin to say that, clothing ill keep changing with freedom of self. Like the problems here in India that you’re saying exists today existed in England for example about 150 years back(remember the long gowns and witch burning, America never really saw all this oppressive historcal culture changes as they are just bout 300 yrs old i gess). They’re just ahead of us in this aspect, pretty much the same way we Indians are ahead of the Muslim countries, dont you think so?
      Here’s another point… You are comfortable with what you wear now, im guessing jeans and top or whatever. Now you have seen the trend in every country for the past 500 years that clothing has modified to become comfortable, easy and light, and so you can see why its become shorter and lighter(I mean look at Queen Elizabeth;s dress compared to princess Diana, or a Rajput princess’ dress to the sleeveless blouse and chiffon in the 70’s – 80’s.
      NOW…. keepin that in mind, that yu’re okay with jeans and top but by the time you have kids or grandkids, they find itcool enough to go to the movies on a hot summer day in a coloured halter(which you can compare to a bikini) and denim shorts… Or the guys moving around in the city like they were on a beach. Hard to imagine? But you know clothes will be worn which you think right now are too exposing, on a more general basis) Maybe in winters they do wear body hugging warm clothes which right now might seem to you as wierd.
      The question is, wouldn’t that make you uncomfortable if I was your son in law and roamed around in the house in a pair of shorts, shirtless coz its to hot. Im helping you out, respecting you, love your daughter, am sweet to you.

      IHM It would not make me uncomfortable 🙂 I wear shorts myself 🙂 But that is not the point Saurabh. I have faced no rebellion with my two teenagers. I do not think there is any need for any rebellion if we are reasonable, and if we accept our coming generations as individuals with minds of their own. So when my daughter wanted a tattoo, I asked her to think about it, it cannot be undone, and found her a reliable place (hygienic place), and let it go at that.
      About clothes, sensible clothing would be acceptable to all if we just stopped thinking we own our children and even more our daughters in laws.
      It is not NATURAL or NORMAL for new generations to rebel. I have a great relationship with my in laws- but the credit goes to them and to my husband- in many educated families all over India the elders have stopped assuming the right to dictate how those who are younger than us dress, and we are all happier for this.

      You see it is no a problem. The young will always revolt, and the elderly will always try to maintain heritage. (Just see that in every damn case, the older generation forces the younger generation to do only as much as they would have done.)

      IHM I do not think that is right or natural. Change is natural but our objections to change just to ‘maintain heritage’ make no sense to me. This needs to change so that we can have harmonious and fun filled relationships with our elders and our children. Please take a look at this, instead of a fight between elders and young generation, we could all just use some common sense? Think about it…

      and this is a look at how we seem to try to bring up our children…

      Just like the daughter in law revolts about the jeans, the mother in law revolted about the sleeveless blouse, her mother revolted about wearing coloured clothes after getting widowed, and similarly your daughter will revolt about clothes that you can’t dare to wear.

      IHM: But why will she revolt? And why will I object? Will I try to force my ideas down her throat? I guess have not faced any revolts because I have not forced my wishes on them. I don’t think I always know better 🙂 And the only thin I ever ‘revolted’ (more like discussions) against was in the choice of subjects I wanted to study 🙂

      It’s only natural, its necessary for change and to maintain nature’s balance, its necessary that one person takes the step even after getting humiliated or beaten up and the rest get the courage to follow.

      IHMBut Saurabh, why do you feel is it necessary?

      So you don’t set your mind towards the next generation about their clothing as well, coz it will happen to you too my friend, what happed to your older generation.

      And its not just bout clothing, bout food habbits, language, culture, the elders will always find it hard to accept the younger mindset.
      All cultures are rich, the one we are following now is as rich as the one that was followed 500 years back. Its the people who stamp it good or bad.

      So let’s just watch out when we get older, what are we gonna do.
      Trust me for our kids, jeans will be an old concept… 🙂 Think!

      IHM: I am sure they will be different from us, time keeps changing but instead of hinderance I am confident that we as parents will always be there as support for them Saurabh.


  4. Does this mean you are back from your vacation? 🙂

    Am I the first to comment?
    *comment moderation doesnt help!*

    *going back to actually read the post*

    LOL 🙂 It’s great to be back… might have to be off again, but I will be back again soon… missed all this Pixie!! 😆


  5. I reckon the next time people say about jeans being a ‘threat’ to the ‘Indian culture’, we should question why men don’t walk around in dhotis everywhere. I mean, seriously, why don’t they…particularly if women are expected to only wear saris or salwars?!

    I too am never able to understand this lack of concern over saving of the tradition of wearing the ‘dhoti’….


  6. In many of the families ( especially joint) sari wearing is a must.
    In my gym and yoga classes, ladies drape sari over their kameez salwar and then they come for their exercise regime.
    There is a ladies club where the same scene can be seen. ladies leave their houses wearing saris and underneath they have jeans.
    I feel distressed to see such a hypocratic behaviour of young ladies beacuse they cannot raise their voice against their in laws.
    granted sari is the most sexy dress a women can wear. tell me in which other dress a woman can show her midrif, her arms, her waist, her stomach , her bosom, her back and if worn very tight then the full figure.
    But I think this is the point not in favour of sari as the traditional people don’t they realise that atleast in kamees salwar or jeans the full body of their bahu is covered whereas sari is so revealing and while working at home it is so difficult to maintan the sari and the work together.
    and one more thing I have seen lots of ladies wearing saris with their head covered fighting like cats and dogs with the in laws. so wearing sari dosnt make the person respectul towards others.
    by the way what is the result of your pol.
    we are still waiting for the resutls/

    Anjugandhi I will put up the entries for voting now 🙂


  7. IHM, so glad you are back. I think we need a new pink chaddi campaign to say how ridiculous all this is. Like for instance we could start collecting money to buy blindfolds for men, after all, they cannot control themselves once they get inflamed at the sight of women. Or some such thing. Because explaining our pov is not helping any. And indeed, we blog on and on, and write and rant, but the people listening to us are people like ourselves. We are speaking to a small select circle, we need to get heard by the idiots out there who are making this a problem. I emailed those colleges, but no reply so far. And now I completely feel its a very wasted armchair activism. I wonder can we start a ridiculing these attitudes campaign or something? I mean “women cover up men will harass you” is as idiotic as “men close your eyes, women turn you on”. Would ridicule work better than education or discourse? Or are these people already far too brainwashed?

    I read your post about the email you sent, I would have done the same if I was home…I think we should all send emails to newspapers, and start signature campaigns in language they understand…And yes Allytude women covering up in all weather conditions has not worked so far, I feel blindfolding of men deserves a try. 😦


      • IHM,

        To be honest, I find this idea of trying to ‘conserve’ our culture too impractical. Women’s clothing is one aspect of that idea.

        I don’t understand why should we feel proud of something which was developed without *our* involvement much before we were even born? Can we Indians feel proud of Australia winning the cricket world cup? Yes, it sounds ridiculous for simple reason that Australians live in a different *continent*. Likewise, it’s equally ridiculous to feel proud of things done and developed by a different *generation* in a different *time*, and still worse, blindly follow them. Everyone forgets one simple thing–none of the prior generations have actually tried to conserve their culture. At least not successfully. Otherwise, how did we turn from stone wielding cavemen into spacesuit clad astronauts?

        Every generation makes modifications in their daily practices conducive to their survival and comfort. When we try to pass them on dogmatically to the next generation, they outlive their practical utility. Saree and dhoti, if you look at carefully, are reminiscent of times when needles where not used in India! Blouse was a later addition only when the art of stitching with needles was brought to India by Muslim rulers.

        But, the issue I’m trying to get at is much broader. Why, by default, someone’s unquestioningly imbibing old practices is looked at as a *virtue*? How is it virtuous like being helpful, courteous, honest, morally upright?

        I’m not implying that we should discard certain practices only because they’d legacies of older generations, but nor should we hold onto them for precisely the same reason. Most important thing is to use our discretion. Most of the etiquette of (mind you, ALL the cultures ALL OVER the globe) are based in better social interactions as an end, so if we find such etiquette–and basic manners like courtesy, helpfulness, mutual respect tasteful and conducive to our society, we must certainly retain them in our daily conduct. Just their our judgement of certain practices should not be preloaded with obligation to preserve them.


        Brilliantly put Ketan!!! I agree and I admire the way you have expressed it so well!


        • Thanks, IHM!

          There’re two new posts on my blog–one a mere parody, but the other something that you might find interesting going by your response to instructions at the ‘Art of Living’ course.



  8. Imagine, here in Qatar when temperatures are soaring at around 48 deg C, women walk around wearing their long black, synthetic burkhas…I have still not been able to understand how customs take precidence over comfort!


    • Sindhu women are brainwashed into believing that any desire for comfort must be subdued in preference to ‘modesty’. There is no limit to how much of covering is safe or modest.
      Some will just cover their arms, some cover their heads, some even hide their eyes.
      Women are also (even in India) discouraged from stepping out of their homes.
      Many women believe this is how it should be…


      • How true, wonder when we will throw out all customs and be the person we want to be!(and not roam around naked though…that would be a tad dangerous, right!0

        Mr Balvinder Singh blogged about how the Naga people roam around half naked, I also saw in Andaman and Nicobar Islands most tribes stay nearly naked. 🙂 But I do agree about appropriate dressing, only thing is women should be treated like they have brains to decide what they should wear. Unfortunately everybody else decides what women should do, or how they should dress and everything else that concerns them.


  9. Welcome back! Missed you so much!

    It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? The way a woman’s comfort is so easily dismissed. Men can walk about bare-bodied and with their lungis folded at such obscene levels that they may as well walk around in their chaddis. All that doesn’t matter. But a woman showing all of her arms! Heaven forbid!

    This post of yours stirred up a funny memory. The MIM and I were travelling by train, from Mumbai to Kolkata to spend our first Durga Puja after marriage, with his parents. I was wearing jeans. We got chatty with another family and the lady was totally shocked at my attire…jeans and shirt. She couldn’t fathom how I would meet my in-laws looking like that. “Surely you’re going to change into a sari before you get off the train?” When I answered in the negative, her face was a mask of open disgust and disapproval. Imagine her surprise, when we arrive at the station, and my FIL is waiting there with my MIL, who was wearing…jeans!! The look on her face? Priceless!

    LOL The look on her face? Priceless!!! here’s to many more such priceless looks M4…. this made me smile early in the morning 🙂


  10. Here in Sharjah few years back sarees were banned as they think women exposes more by wearing sarees, where as tight tops and jeans are allowed.

    It’s all about women exposing this and exposing that! Some claim even eyes should not be exposed…

    I hate to wear saree here as the temp is +45 dec C,i am more comfortable wearing salwar kurta than the jeans. But here u can find many indians who have not worn salwar kurta in india wear them here,because there is no one to object what they wear.But when they go for vacation saree starts from the airport till they are back here.

    My sister never wored a saree until her marriage,after marriage she was forced to wear saree all the time,she didnt say thing,but now she said enough,i will wear what i like to and she stopped wearing them.

    Clothes are used to control women and generally very successfully. From banning sarees, or jeans or salwar kurtas, to compulsory head scarves and dupattas … all in the name of ‘decency’ and modesty and protection! Women are treated like they have no brains. I think freedom to dress as the woman choose to is a significant freedom, and women simply must insist upon it.


  11. i think dressing sense can never be related to the character of a woman.a woman of good character can also wear a skirt.unless and until she gives a path for men,they can never make their one step ahead,since all these things are always two sided and never one sided…

    Tushar cases of molestations and rapes like the one in news today where this boy filmed his girl friend being raped, to blackmail her, show men can and do take a step even when women are not interested, …so these things can be one sided. I think we need to create awareness about this. Women sometimes find attention where we least expect, definitely one sided attentions. Sometimes they sense the man is a lech but they are not sure what to do about it. Molesters in the form of tuition teachers, colleagues at work, bosses, acquaintances, realise the girl is afraid of them or afraid of complaining, they might later say it was two sided because the girl did not complain. But we all know it is very difficult for girls to complain. Principles like Meeta Jamal will blame the girls without a second thought.


  12. Apparently that woman has never seen a Bengali woman. Bengali women wear sleeveless blouses most of the time!!

    Reema she was reassured about my ‘character’ only when she realised my in-laws ‘permitted’ me to wear western clothes and sleeveless blouses. When I realised she was serious about her criticism I took the trouble to show her some family pictures. She had also declared that women who took care to dress well, neglected their families, specially children. This was an eye opener for me, and once again confirmed my belief in ‘living and letting live’.


    • I am not surprised IHM. I have heard educated women saying things like women who dress well, get her nails and hair done are not good mothers. According to them a mother of a pre-schooler should look shabby with hair over her face.

      Then their husbands saying that these women can’t cook either. One such guy got a shock to see the Indian spread I once made when I invited them. Hmm..these days I prefer not to invite such lunatics into our homes. They can spread their ‘sabhyata’ to people who care.


    • Reema,

      I have seen this post only today, in December 2013. Yes, I have seen many many Bengali women wear sleeveless blouses and I always felt that they looked not only very pretty, but so natural.

      So, sleeveless blouses with sarees should be worn by any women, without any reservation.



  13. you know it’s not just in India that a woman’s clothes are used to control her. western clothes are often taken as a sign of “too much freedom”. this is a problem in a lot of traditional, patriarchal societies.

    I agree, Western clothes on women are seen as a sign of too much freedom, unfortunately we do not just stop at commenting, we even allow crimes against women based on the way they are dressed! 😦


  14. You are right. We are brainwashed into wearing only sarees but that is the sexiest dress! We can show as much waist and stomach and while working, we pull it and insert it into the petticoat and the legs are visible!

    You know what, I started wearing salwar kameez after I was 40 years and cut my hair too….I had a very long thick hair. I was bold enough to do it! Till then I was a very submissive, soft spoken woman. Now, I have changed! I like to wear sarees but now only while going out!

    Sandhya being able to dress the way we feel comfortable can be empowering, because it shows we treat ourselves as capable of taking sensible decisions, … you were awesome to change at 40 – Hats off to you! …such women are the ones who can bring changes in our system. And we are doing it. 😆

    I have got Rajasthani neighbours, just opposite my house and the women, cover their heads, the whole day, when the men are out to their office also. It is very very hot in Chennai and they have got 3-4 children, each, too. They say they are here in Chennai for the past 20 years! They have not changed at all. But basically, they are nice people.

    They are afraid of change. I knew a family where the 45 year old daughter in law switched to sari when her in laws visited them, she had to cover her head and be submissive during their stay, once they left she got busy with normal life, and I always wondered if her in laws realised how much closer they would all be if she could dress comfortably even when they visited… but we associate respect with what we wear 😦


    • You must be knowing that South Indian girls – teen aged girls – used to wear half sari (I started wearing when I entered 9th Std.). This has changed now to churidaar! Each and every girl now wears churidaar and go to some export company for work. It is nice to see them changing now. They are bold also, keep their head high, while walking on the road. I am happy for them.


  15. I totally TOTALLY agree with you…

    Oh my God, if people here had their way they would want girls to wear saris all the time! I am told often to wear saris instead of jeans (even though I am not married). But I like to think that our Indian society is slowly but surely changing for the better…

    Yes Dhanya it is changing because of people like you and I and those members in our communities who support us! We should be there to support any friends who have difficulty in convincing their families, and ofcourse we can make sure anyone in our families who needs help has all our support. We can change this.


  16. I was watching something on CNN IBN today and one Delhite (a woman) was complaining that they (the Delhites) live according to “the simple Indian culture and dress modestly” etc, and that the girls who come from our North-East “pollute the atmosphere by wearing indecent un-Indian clothes”.

    Siddharth, the saddest part is this woman probably means it!! Cultures, honors and religions are totally at the mercy of the way women dress. 😦


  17. IHM!!!!!!

    *crafty jumps on IHM n hugs her second time to welcome her back*

    IHM delightfully hugs Crafty right back

    must u make poor crafty exercise like this??!! 😛

    Aww… IHM is speechless…

    yeah, tell me about sleeveless blouses! my cousin once told me “sleeveless blouses r like ruining the sanctity of saree” 😐
    what logic is this????

    IHM, i remembered a scene from a mallu movie in which Revathy is dressed in a shirt buttoned to the neck and pants, and the other actress is dressed in a half-saree (southie-style of a saree skirt, blouse n dupatta draped around) and she questions revathy “is this how u will be going to the temple? its not acceptable!”
    and she responds back “why? i am covered from neck to toe. and look at u – hands, neck and waist exposed! how come i am unacceptable when u are the one more exposed?”

    i think its not what u wear but how u carry off also that counts! one can look very decent in short tees n jeans when compared to some counterparts who can even make a salwar kameez look obscene….

    to say that how one “dresses” is what is provocative is the silliest i have heard yet.

    i want these ppl to explain to me, why then did i have to battle harrasment when i was a 13yr old dressed in my school uniform?!

    Well said, Crafty Shines, I wish this is read and understood by all those who think traditional clothing is the best clothing for women. I loved Revathy’s reply!!!

    IHM, don’t disappear ok? i miss u!!!! 😦

    Crafty Shines I missed you too!!!!!!


    • a saree worn well can cover everything or show anything ! its how you wear it that matters — and that goes well with anything – even jeans, skirt, shorts –name it.

      I agree Anrosh!


      • Don’t agree, about saree worn well- you have to do a lot of tweaks and stuff to cover up completely. Chances that it will move out of place and expose some part of the waist is very high. Jeans, salwars not so much. And not to mention jeans are much safer and less easy access than sarees and salwars.


  18. Indian culture of 10000 years is so weak that even a simple dress like Jeans is a potential threat to it; or that is what some self proclaimed custodians of the Indian culture love to think. Does that imply that the culture is old and feeble and and deserves to die a natural death ?
    The great society of India has a big fault- it doesn’t respect the wishes of an individual
    . These “moral” issues of dress n all are just an attempt to control the women by those who are distraught at seeing them surging ahead in all fields … pity their frustration and do not pay heed to them

    Yes Rebel I totally agree!


  19. I have never been able to buy the logic behind the question of – ‘What should be the most appropriate for the female?’

    It becomes more ridiculous when we try to answer the above question based on the customs & traditions connected to a nation, religion and social background.

    But whats most saddening is the fact that – Instead of opposing such ridiculous and frustrating reasonings behind such fundamental choices of a human being, its the female herself who is either pushing herself into the mess and its the woman herself who is blindly following things. (eg, that story where a principle bans jeans in college……came from a lady who was definitely well educated and considered to be a person with a sound ability).

    I do not understand why a female becomes the biggest enemy of a female? Or else, why would a mother-in-law ever force her daughter-in-law to wear clothes which absolutely make no sense………even when the mother herself wanted to wear such clothes when it was her age! Can somebody explain that?

    Could be a wish to control? Or a fear of change? Or a deep rooted social conditioning?


  20. you`re right of course!! The way a woman dresses is everyone`s business! Gah!
    People back home had a problem with the dress(jeans and a tee) I was wearing for Dad`s funeral! Can you beat that?? Twenty thousand morons came and asked me to change into a sari/salwar! Not that this remotely even crossed my mind,esp because of the state of mind I was in! But in retrospect,jeans was a convenient option for me because I was the one who had to do a lot of running around,looking over things etc.
    I just dont get it!
    Same with in-laws(professors at that!) – they dont say anything, but their expressions are killing, if I ever wear a skirt around them! 🙂 I do so more often now, just in defiance! I mean, what the F#@^%$@&???!!!!


  21. Lovely Post..i am not allowed to wear skirts at my place, my parents are ok with jean but they make a fuss if i wear some short top or even sleeveless…. i am dreading the fact that once i get married , i am expected to be in saree ,that too with my head covered fulltime… its sad that, the guys do not support their wives for this matter, they expect a girl to do whatever she has been asked to do…


  22. Another nice post IHM and good to see you back. I agree with Allytude though that we mostly preach to the choir. The people whom we are trying to engage don’t seem to be paying any attention, but we have to keep writing nevertheless. Atleast what was unimaginable a generation back is now possible and girls do have some freedom to wear comfortable clothes like jeans etc. Although much needs to be done.

    Btw, what do you think about the opinion some hold that clothes should be a matter of personal choice or we should be allowed to wear *whatever* we want to, given that India is a free country. Should there be any restriction from the govt. to control what one can wear. If so, why? Frankly I agree with it in principle that we should be allowed to wear whatever we want but don’t know how I would feel if someone chooses to wear his/her underwear in public 😉 But a govt. control on clothes also seems an encroachment on our right to freedom of expression.

    We do see some people dressed like that even now (generally men) and I read somewhere how one can walk around in one’s underwear without being charged with obscenity. It is I think a crime to be seen in less than that. That’s fair enough I think. We have enough social restrictions I guess even if there were no laws regarding this…


  23. I love these posts of yours IHM. I agree with every word you say. I wonder how men who believe that men can’t control themselves at the sight of women can respect their own sex. I would certainly be ashamed of saying this about women.
    And I also know a lot of women who wear sleeveless and it is considered quite normal.


  24. Welcome back and do not threaten you will go again Lack of individual liberty in feudal cultures is the reason for restrictions in way of dressing To some extend it was there for lower caste men too As we say good bye to such a feudal society the restrictions will come down as it happened in West


    • I agree Charakan and it’s great to see you back too 🙂 I wish I did not have to go, my head is full of rants and posts with the news of film stars behaving like villains…I have also been missing all the posts on issues I feel so strongly about… 😦


  25. Live and let live…umm IHM do you think most of us even understand that concept considering getting nosey is quite the done thing in most places…and a loud sigh to we associate respect with what we wear…I guess it also has to do with the fact that in India men are considered to be easily bewitched by any show of skin or any snug fitting outfit…they after all have no control over their drives…and considering it is the woman who has to suffer (whatever happens it is her character that gets assassinated you see) the onus is on her to dress carefully…that seems to be the logic…

    btw, a slight digression here IHM, did you follow the Shiney Ahuja case? A leading newspaper did a story the next day about how the law is unfavourably tilted towards women and that there is nothing to protect men from women who would cry rape after consensual sex…I am sure they wouldnt have done such a story had Shiney been accused of molestation by a socialite…it was just coz she was a maid…and like in every other rape case a couple of days later there were rumours about the maid having had a boyfriend (which obviously means her character is loose) and worse of her professing her ‘love’ for Shiney days before the rape…though the law implies the onus is on the accused to prove himself innocent in rape case, in the eyes of the society, it seems, the onus is on the victim to prove that she didn’t invite it


    • I missed the reactions of the blogosphere on this Cilla, but what can be sadder than even women trying to blame the poor girl, she is just eighteen! Can you imagine what would have happened if she had tried to tell her family …? They would have never believed her or they would have blamed her… Shiney Ahuja must have considered all this, he knew he had strong chances of getting away with this…


      • And you are so right Cilla, though the law implies the onus is on the accused to prove himself innocent in rape case, in the eyes of the society, it seems, the onus is on the victim to prove that she didn’t invite it!!


  26. I honestly think it’s a decision best left for oneself.
    Notice how it is always the women who are targetted for their dressing sense, morals and whatnot? Does that mean men can be given a free hand to do whatever they like irrespective of the repurcussions?


  27. I think it is most insensitive and ill mannered to be commenting on what the other person is wearing. Obviously on most occasions women are the one who face these queries…it’s a mindset and a tool for control…control a women by the way she dresses, when she comes back home from work, question who she meets, who she talks to, who she marries, what she eats and drinks, how she laughs, how she walks, its an endless list…its abhorring…


  28. yes IHM it is everybody’s business to comment on what we wear…i recently got engaged and i was supposed to go to my would be inlaws place for dinner……my relatives were aghast when i wore jeans to go there……it was as if a catostrophe has befallen over them…..nevertheless i went in the jeans and my in laws were like why didnt you wear this earlier….so thats how it is……the hypocrisy in our society is so deep rooted that it would take ages for it to be overcome… one of the commentators said…..we are not addressing the people who do this and neither the people who endorse this…..then how we are expecting to see the change which we want to see??????

    Congratulations on your engagement Gunmeen!! I am sure your in laws were proud of their daughter in law!! My warmest best wishes 🙂 🙂


  29. i think the key word here is individual choice! i know many women who feel comfortable only in a saree and am cool, as long as its a choice THEY have made!

    when i go to see my in-laws, i am requested not to wear shorts at home, but no one would dare tell me to wear a nightie or some such instead of PJs. they know that would be wishful thinking! 😉

    if you respect my choice, i will indulge you too! 🙂

    and all this protection based on clothes is just bullshit! someday we will tel the men that THEY need to keep their hormones in check! period!

    great post!


    Absolutely agree Abha!!! 🙂


  30. I think your header is offensive to Indian culture. It shows a married woman without a mangalsutra. People like you encourage our girls and women to have ‘ideas’ and be ‘liberal’ and thus divert them from the correct path of life. Of course the way my wife dresses is my business- she’s my property after all. As for other women tight fitting and revealing clothes were never part of Indian culture. If you look at it historically, the aim of an Indian woman’s life is to be a good wife and daughter in law. Blogs like your encourage them to have careers and whatnot. Next you’ll be encouraging divorce for beaten wives! Shame.

    😆 The Couch Clown I am in splits 🙂


    • 🙂 🙂 about the good wife comment.. don’t you remember the “Karyeshu daasi, shayaneshu rambha” shloka? A good wife is a harlot when the situation demands it. But really IHM you are suggesting awful things- women think on their own.. oh goodness…

      😆 I have heard this one and another that forbids women from even thinking of another man, it goes – there are various kinds of women, ones who do not loose their ‘maryada’ only because they never get an opportunity are not good enough; those who behave themselves but have bad thoughts are also not good enough; there was one more kind .. I forget,… basically all of us SRK, Hrithik and George Clooney fans are sinners. I am not sure we have something similar for men. They can’t help having ‘bad thoughts’ and also expressing them to women passing by on the streets.


      • “Karyeshu daasi, shayaneshu rambha…”

        That shloka is so annoying. Written by a pervert for sure.

        I am rewriting it with SRK in mind.

        Karmeshu money machine, shayaneshu can go to KJo…. 😆


      • George Clooney… Hrithik… John… Neil… Brad… Matt… Richard Gere…
        Now I’m seriously turned on, and I assure you I wasn’t imagining them in jeans!
        I’m going to the worst hell for super-sinners!


  31. Nice one IHM. I wonder how dress defines the simplicity/ethnicity/decency whatever of a woman?
    Just that I wear a halter neck or 3/4ths or sleeveless makes people say I am far away from simplicity ? What abt the simplest of thoughts I have when they are caught in a complex maze of who is wearing what etc.. rather than taking out time n make their life worth living.


  32. Welcome back !! 🙂

    U knw, I started wearing salwar’s only when i started college, and that too my mum’s. Jeans and tees were not allowed and yet that did not stop the eve teasing at all…. its a twisted logic aimed at controlling the women and side stepping teaching the men how to behave.

    btw have something for u on my blog, do chk it out.


  33. Women are not human beings IHM!didnt you know?
    seriously we are not!
    no!no!I am NOT kidding!
    the sanskriti ke thekedaars told me so!
    they told me what we are..

    hmmm..lets see what we are..
    errmmm..okay..honour again..(I mean it IS inportant you know )
    we are also sl#### who err..’entice’ men (poor creatures..they dont have brains of their own no? 😦 )
    we are also witches who cast spells on err men again(who else? )

    we are also custodians of all thats holy in our sanskriti..

    and IHM…..pssttt!

    did you know that if we don’t wear saris all our sabhyata will be lost?

    seriously!all that glorious Indian culture and all..
    gone like that!! 🙄


  34. good to see you back! Indian women are bound to be bound by the rules set by a MIL or someone else. They cannot decide what’s best for them and so we pay, by not wearing jeans, not wearing salwars once married and only wearing the difficult to manage saris. And when we complain about how uncomfortable it is, we are shown examples of our dadis and nanis who are 80 years old and wear saris all the time and have been since around 50-60 years.

    In my college, the rule was to wear only salwars. So, I started wearing them then. There was no end to eve teasing. We wore saris for some college functions sometimes and those were the worst days for us.
    So, the bottomline is agar buddhi nahi badlegi to kapde badalne ka koi fayda nahi hoga.

    IHM: Brilliantly put Rohini!


  35. I have never understood why only a saree clad woman is considered respectful. Personally, I love the outfit. But the head covering, wearing it at all occasions no matter what the place or weather, is just plain ridiculous. couldn’t agree with u more.
    And to think that salwar kameezes and jeans worn with kurtas are far less revealing. *sheesh*


    • Absolutely Neha! I love the sari too, but I don’t feel any less respectful in a pair of jeans 🙂 Once at a wedding someone commented that lehengas are not traditional, it seems anything fun and popular is against some people’s concept of culture!


        • Lehengas are not traditional? I remember a cousin’s wedding a couple of years ago and she was like everyone wears lehengas I want to be different so she wore a sari. And all relatives were like, “Tu sari pehnegi? Lehenga nahin pehnegi? Shaadi mein bhi nahin?”
          That shows how traditional it is.
          But tell me, IHM, how will it be any less of a wedding or a relationship if the bride and groom decide to wed clad in jeans? Will they not love each other the same? Or will they not remain faithful? Is it the sari/sherwani/lehenga that decides how strong a relationship is?

          Good point Surbhi!!…. that’s a point nobody even considers, we forget that weddings are much more than just a festive occasion


      • You know IHM, sometimes I feel sorry for you meeting the kinds of people you do! Like whoever said lehengas are not traditional. So effing what? I mean, in that case the most natural and traditional thing must be to roam around naked, since that is actually how we all started. Not that I have the most fab body, but at least no one would tell me my naked body is showing too much skin.

        PS: Sorry, I just finished writing an angry post over at my place and am still fuming.

        I understand Surbhi… I have felt this way too, … let me come and read what angered you so much! 🙂


  36. The Indian girls in Malaysia are not pressured to wear saris daily. Whatever they are comfortable in , they wear – salwars, jeans, etc. Thank goodness!
    It’s on occasions like weddings and important events when the ladies make it a point to go traditional and wear saris.
    In my opinion, let the wearer decide.


  37. IHM, what are you talking about, I was 100% serious! You dare mock our great traditions? You are not a true Indian. Ha! and you wonder why women are molested! You will walk on the street showing too much skin, and then you say it’s the man’s fault. If our women adhered to our ancient culture, then they wouldn’t be molested in the first place. Better yet, if they fulfill their ancient duties by being ideal daughters in law, all women’s problems would be solved- as they all arise because we don’t follow the teachings of our ancestors. You people think you know better than our elders who wrote the great vedas and puranas? How can you be so arrogant? The scriptures prescribe the division of a man and woman’s duties differently, how can you claim to know more than their great writers? Chee.


    • I think had they not been born at all, they wouldn’t have incited lustful feelings in men.
      PS: I’m good at this too, Couchie!
      PPS: Errr… I hope you didn’t mind ‘Couchie’…


  38. Well written, IHM.
    I guess, to a large extent, women have made it the business of others how they dress. When they wear shoes, they want to think that they should look good. To whom? To others. That it is used against them is but natural. Culture and cultural dressing-up as oppressive as we can make it. A woman’s overall personality is considered but an extension of her family and honor. I think it is because she makes it like that. The day she steps out of the prejudice against the ‘sleeveless blouse’, and does what she wants to do, her clothing is no more a symbol of her family honor.
    I loved the post. Welcome back from the break.


  39. I do not wear western dresses @ my in-laws. MIL told me that i may wear n do whatever I want at my parents or my own place but infront of my FIL and the rest I must wear sari or at least salwar-Kameez. But even in that she does not like me in LucknowChikan (with a cotton lining and all). I mean I am from lucknow and this is malmal. such a problem???
    So well, diffrent people have diffrent ideas on this. Sometimes I force myself to stop thinking and repeat that I will be out in a few days.
    But women in general do have to face this and more often than not it is our own clan, gender that pulls us down.


  40. “This is difficult to understand because all other Indians can wear whatever they find comfortable without threatening the survival of their culture.”

    Yups Yups..You know whats funny, when a guy wear shorts, there is absolutely no such thing as ‘exposing’, but if a gal wear shorts, she is ‘exposing’ weird, right?I mean, why is the guy not ‘exposing’ in shorts if the gal is??

    Its depressing when you think of the fact that Indian women cannot even exercise freedom while dressing and has to think of what the other 100crore people will ‘think about it’.

    Other than the ‘exposing’ stigma thats attached, there is this ‘western’ stigma that also attached to jeans and shorts..But strangely,that too only applies for gals :-(.. Pretty depressing!


      • it might be depressing or annoying, but many women, including me, do not like exposing their knees. heck, there are westerners and easterners who dont expose their knees. it is not a social stigma only because it is indian, modesty is universal.

        the europeans had their long clothes, the indians had their long clothes, the chinese had theirs..the arabs had theirs.. . modesty is not a purely indian thing. i would say only the americans thought of more comfortable clothes, probably after finding how comfortable the red indians were.
        a large part was that america was populated by men and mail-order brides.. there were no mother-in-laws to “save the culture”, and women could do as they pleased.

        the arab men still wear modest clothes, so do men in conservative societies around the whole world, which include christians, jews, hindus and most other relegions.

        Jaya traditional Indian clothing was a sari for women, no blouse – we had no needle, and the sari was draped according to convenience, like a sarong, or a dhoti … and I see women in saris hitched up, well above the knees while at work, this is very common (very sensible too) in some parts of India.

        i guess it is NOT only in india that modesty proves injurious to the women. the only way to end this false pretense is to allow girls a right to education..and raise your own kids and the ones within your influence to see a person, not the clothes.

        if you are comfortable with what you’re wearing, why do you look around for other’s reaction?

        I think there is too much pressure to dress in a certain way, and that might make it difficult for an average wearer to entirely ignore the reactions, if any. Though I guess a huge population in the parts where one is thinking of where their next meal is coming from just doesn’t care…


  41. hi IHM…have been here for a couple of times n enjoyed reading what you write…
    this post of your’s and the last one too, raise a question whose answer is there with us, very much…….havn’t you seen women who blame the samaaj on some issues n then expect from their own daughter in laws to follow the same things….very conveniently they portray this as a respect towards elders… you said earlier, the women are brainwashed to think like that , but i don’t understand one thing why it becomes a value system….or a tradition,a culture .
    what a woman learns in her lifetime, what she has faced through her life( may be she had fought for )..can’t she move to the next level with her children( i mean daughters n daughter in laws)..

    IHM: Sangeeta Khanna we have to move tot he next level, we are doing it too, but too slowly…. We are afraid of change I fear…. 😦


  42. my FIL says “Beta Khao apne man ka aur pehno humarey man ka”, and I asked him “so someone else will tell me when to listen to my own heart and when ignore it?” I am the black sheep in the family because I wear all sorts of clothes.


  43. Welcome back, IHM! Missed you lots.

    I totally agree with you here and I have posted my views on your previous post.

    As I mentioned elsewhere just because some perverts roam around freely and have no control over their —-, women should cover herself. This is the only solution our moral police comes up with. Pity!

    Look around and you will find many who support it too.

    What can I say, IHM? I know people who think swimming is bad because one has to wear swimsuit. I am so sick of listening to this constant ‘sabhyata’ and ‘sanskriti’ lecture on various places and now blogs too that only thing we can do is ignore and do what we like.


  44. sometimes, emancipated as we are, or like to think we are, we do this to ourselves! a couple of days ago, standing at a hotel entrance, waiting for my car to arrive, i saw a pretty young girl in a strappy next to nothing, turned to my friend, and sighed – ah i wish i could wear something like this. ‘what’s stopping you?’ she asked, and, even as one part of my brain was shrieking ‘wth!!’ i actually said – oh my husband wouldn’t mind, but my children would probably not let me step out of the house like this!

    That was some question… !!


    • my brain was shrieking at me to stop, not at my friend, by the way, but those words about husband not minding, but children objecting, still burst out – sheesh, conditioning!!
      if we educated women can so easily fall prey to conditioning, is it any surprise that others brought up to be meek and timid and unquestioning of authority are so much worse, and go on to perpetuate the crime?
      our whole thought process needs an overhaul, seriously.

      Yes magicalsummer it really does!


  45. I was asked by my in-laws what I would be wearing when I visit them in Tamilnadu. My SIL did not want me to wear jeans. Guess what I wore? 😉

    LOL Jeans? !! You know we should, though with a nice smile if possible….! It was wrong of her to ask and demand you wear no jeans, but Indian in laws that this as their birth right!


  46. What do you think about Sarkozy’s comments on the naqab IHM? Mixing religion and politics? Infringement on right to practice any religion? Or just a liberating law? Other commentors also please respond…

    Let me check this Cilla, any links??? I am totally out of touch with the world here …. (still away from home)


    • I’ll tell you what happened. A Muslim hardliner took offence to Sarkozy calling the burqa regressive. And you know what he did? He did the most regressive thing he could – he unhurt his ‘hurt sentiments’ by calling Carla Bruni a prostitute!

      That’s another post worthy issue Surbhi, anything close to being a prostitute is considered an insult = words like bitch, whore, slut, even ‘bastard’ is actually as offense to the mother! While I feel sex workers live miserable lives and the job is degrading – I really find it unacceptable that they should be synonyms for the worst thing a woman can ever be…


      • I agree with you that most sex workers live a miserable life. But to consider their job degrading (which is what has let to the miserable lives that they lead), isn’t that also an example of social conditioning?


  47. Welcome back, IHM! I am so so late to this post! Had been busy and wanted to read this properly – too close to my heart 🙂

    ‘The way a woman dresses is everybody’s business’ – so true!

    It is funny how the woman is ‘expected’ to maintain the ‘izzat’ of the family in every way – the way she dresses, the way she talks, whether she works or not.. Comfort or what makes her happy – is that last thing on anybody’s list! The man can wear anything that suits him – that does not ‘dishonour’ the family in any way! But a DIL with out the ghunghat will! The worst thing is that people think that they have the right to ‘permit’ the bahu to wear something! What are we? Bonded slaves to ask for permission to do everything?

    ‘But many Indians think wearing a sari is the only way to be a virtuous bhartiya nari. Bollywood reinforces this.’ So true! It is sad that India’s most popular medium propogates such concepts all the time! How many movies have we seen where the boy hardly notices a ‘tomboy’ but miraculously falls in love when that girl becomes all girly! The same goes for serials, I guess! The vamp is always a little western – isn’t she! The homebreaker, jeans wearing, no mangalsutra – no sabhyata!

    Only when it comes to women, do we excuse violent criminals if they claim the woman was not suitably clothed.’ – So true! It is so convenient isn’t it – to blame it on the way she is dressed! I wonder if that means that 200 years ago – there were no rapes, no violence against women? Or lets go further back – was Draupadi wearing jeans when they tried disrobing her?

    IHM : Absolutely Smitha!!! Well said!


  48. Nice post IHM.
    Be it whatever you wear, it’s all about how comfortable you are and how well you carry it. As most of the comments have said, a sari also might not cover the whole body when compared to jeans.


  49. Veryyy well written..
    Its has always been everybody else business what a women is wearing, as if the whole indian culture will be evoporated and petrified just coz a women is wearing a jeans or a sleeveless.
    I am of the opinion that u can wear anything as long as it doesnt look vulgar…… Now that thing also u r the one to decide, nt anyone else..


  50. Sarkozy has suggested banning the burqa – a sign of female imprisonment. Will this be construed as an affront by an infidel on Islam or be framed against the French love of liberty, equality and fraternity?

    I have wondered about the color black in burqa too. Why can’t it be white? It will bring down the temperatures by a couple of degrees, wouldn’t it? And if the religion had not proscribed it, would women have voluntarily worn it?

    Astralwicks it is obvious that I am against any covering up of women in the name of protecting them, I also feel women generally do not have any real choice in these matters, I would love it if it could be banned but for India this does not seem possible, not with our political environment at the moment… maybe we should create awareness before banning it here. In Europe I feel it should be banned.


  51. When I visited India in late 2007, it was after 9 years. I remember then I was about 15 and my mother forced me (after my relatives commented) to change the t-shirt I was wearing because it was too ‘tight’ and apparently emphasised my boobs. The same clothes I wore at home in Australia without any problems. Baffled me to the least.

    In ’07, when I was packing my clothes for the trip I was mentally prepared to fight my mother tooth and nail to let me wear what I wanted there (thinking her reactions would be the same). But nope, she didn’t say a word and I traipsed through the country in jeans, t-shirts, dresses and whatever I wanted. If my relatives said anything, she shut them up with a “it’s what she is comfortable in, so what’s the big deal?”.

    I visited my mother’s town of Hapur (really small town near Meerut) in a sleeveless dress (it was bloody monsoon season!!!) and bore the stares of my extended family there. All the bahu’s wore sarees and covered their heads whenever there was a male in the room. My Dad got irritated and told them to ‘be comfortable’ as it kept slipping off and they spent most of the time anxiously trying to keep it on lol.

    I totally loved the post IHM – it’s just another proof of hypocrisy in Indian society. ‘Honour’ is so deeply twisted with what women wear that it’s become ridiculous.


  52. Ah ! What is there to say.. youve said it all! The sad part is.. its the other women who try to reinforce these restrictions.. your friends.. your sisters n your other feminine relatives.. under the header of “concern” !!


  53. Hi IHM,

    I have just become a reader… Let alone a choice of clothes as part of all ‘dressing’ process for Indian woman……think about other accessories they have to go with…..whether they like it or not….say after getting married, manglasutra and bangle is must along with Bindi, earings and sindoor…..I had to put bindi even when i wore any western dresses (I live in US) and when in-laws are visiting…thanks to my DH that he managed to get rid of that ‘law’ in ourhouse. My MIL argues…..o even amreicna have such rules they have to wear ring after getting married, they do not get rid of it…why do we have to get rid of our custom….i feel like answering….in americans, man and woman both are supposed to follow that unlike in India


  54. You know! An american male friend in US mentioned to me…Saree is the sexiest dress he has seen so far..the way it exposes naval and back area between where blouse ends and paticot starts….it made me think then…and we oppose sleeveless?


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  57. I just have to mention this snippet here. Two years back I went to my paternal grandparents’ place for my cousin sister’s wedding. I arrived at their house with my Mom, Dad and Bro, wearing capris and a tee that showed a little bit of midriff when I stood. I didn’t know how my ultra-traditional grandparents would react, but Dad said, “Stop being conscious and behave normally. You’re looking fine.” I was so so proud of my Dad – not because he supported me showing skin, but because he supported me wearing one of my fave tees (which match oh-so-perfectly with that pair of capris).

    Hats off to your dad Surbhi! You are a lucky daughter!


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  60. covering your head is a practice followed to prevent heat stroke…………just because it is traditional doesn’t demean its importance. Every thing traditional isin’t bad.

    Me – Spat Uhr do only women need prevention from heat stroke? Children, men, older people, unmarried girls don’t need this protection? And what about covering of head indoors? And throughout the year- monsoons, winters and spring – all weather, all seasons. Why justify something wrong just because it can be labelled a tradition?


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  63. Hi IHM,

    The complete opposite is happening at my place.

    Both my Fiance and I are very involved in each other’s lives and it doesn’t matter to him what I wear and vice versa. Right at the beginning of our relationship, I had made it clear that no one could dictate what I could/would wear. Thankfully, he is also a very open-minded man and merely suggests what clothes look good on me as he says, ultimately its my decision to wear what I wish to.

    As my marriage is nearing, my MOTHER is behaving like the dreaded MIL and is continuously forbidding me from buying jeans. While my parents brought us up quite liberally, I can’t fathom her sudden change in behaviour. She forces me to buy salwar-kurta and has an opinion on every damn thing I am buying. I have very often told my mother to not disrespect me and judge me on my clothing but now I am dreading going back home to finish the last few purchases as I am convinced she has some new unwanted opinions up her sleeve. My father tells me ‘no parent wants to see their child hurt’ and its only concern that’s making her express such things. The way my father puts it oh-so-sweetly, I am almost convinced that she means well. But when I am quietly analyzing the whole thing in my mind, I still feel it is NOT upto my mother/father/husband/sister to judge me or advise me what to wear irrespective of their relationship with me. My mother’s actions tell me that she still believes that an MIL/husband/son-in-law have an upper hand in everything! I have also come to believe, it is my mother’s FEAR of judgement/rejection that is taking over her and my father’s love for her/old school of thought/similar fear that is convincing him that whatever my mother says is concern, not control!

    But here I am making an effort to know people beyond their piece of clothing. My MIL is a widow and an old woman (70) and I think what I wear is least of her worries. My mother has judged my future so much that I am dreading my MIL. Despite continuous reassurances from my Fiance and having spoken to my MIL many times (very soft spoken & minding-her-own-business type of lady but mild-orthodox) I have misgivings. I have enough faith in myself that if at all such a circumstance arises I would be able to handle it but to be judged by your own mother for no fault of yours is making me break into a sweat!

    I have a sister who stupidly believes that parents are always right and lectures me to listen to parents for my own good. For God’s sake I am 24, chosen my own man, able to make decisions and hopping job. I would definitely listen to my parents of they were less judgmental about their own work and have faith in their child.

    All this has made me bitter. I am not that person. There is no woman in my life who has the courage to take responsibility for her actions and judge less.
    Maybe I am her. Or not.



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  65. The way women dressed was always everybody’s business:

    Shaikh Zainuddin gives interesting details of this mode of dress; only a single loin cloth is girdled round the waist leaving the upper part exposed. In this respect males and females, rajas and nobles, rich and poor are equal.” None of the Hindu ladies except Brahmins thought that the breast was to cover; and to them to cover the breast was an act of immodesty.

    “The caste law prohibits a Nair lady to cover her breast. There are instances of cruelties inflicted upon the ladies for violating these laws. An Ezhava lady who happened to travel abroad and returned well dressed was summoned by the Queen of Attingal and her breast was cut off for covering them.

    In Travancore a riot occurred when a group of upper caste men assaulted a lady of Ezhava caste for wearing cloth below her knees.

    In 1859 another riot took place in Travancore and continued for several days, when the ladies of Channar caste started to cover the breast. The revolt was called chela kalapam (cloth revolt). It became very important that later scholars regarded it as a part of the struggle for independence.

    Unlike his co-religionists in Malabar, Tipu never respected Hindu customs and traditions which Hindus considered as divine and virtuous… His decrees against polyandry and nudity of women really infuriated Hindus … Tipu asked the women of Nair families “to adopt Muhammadan custom of covering their bosom”…

    The christian missionaries supported by the british resident were helping the low caste woman converted to christianity to cover their breasts in 1859 a royal promulgation was passed that, all low caste women should remain naked above waist; except those converted to christianity finally in 1865 british governor of Madras (now called Chennai) who had power over Kerala (Travncore) king; passed a legislation; to cover breasts of all women irrespective of caste or religion.this ruling had to be followed by the king of Travancore also.”

    [Read full article here, ]


  66. To sum up what I have read, funtionality and comfort should dictate dresses and dress styles. No problem with that, if you add aesthetics. But I have a slightly different line of thought here. When I look at the dresses young women commonly sport in India, especially in Indian cities and I compare that with the dresses of women of nearly the same age group in other countries, especially in the West, I can’t fail to notice the striking similarity between the two. That may be because of globalisation where spillovers are common place. But the fact is that the trend has created a situation whereby dress can no longer define an identity. Far from pleasant variations, I notice a standardisation of attires. Sarees, salwar kameez etc. are the defining features of Indianness. These have aesthetic beauty as well as functionality (many might not agree to that). Indian dress designers make expensive dresses with practically zero functionality and shallow style. But I wonder how many of them have made any real effort to make the saree and salwars kameez more functional to suit the needs of modern women. The result is that traditional Indian attire is being lost for good. And sooner or later there would be no Indian women in traditional Indian dresses. Fortunately, Western designers have shown little interest in Indian dresses, so much so that Western attire remains largely uncorrupted. Today it is the jeans and top that appears functional to the modern Indian woman. Tomorrow the Western hemisphere might go for a more functional bra and panty. Expect the modern Indian woman to follow suit. Because she is never known for bright ideas or real love for Indian tradition and culture.


    • You may like to read this post,
      So why do we wear clothes again?

      Traditionally Indian women wore a sari (also called dhoti, even today in rural North India ) without a blouse or a top cloth. And men wore a dhoti. Men’s clothing seems to generate much lesser interest, hasn’t men’s clothing got a history/culture/tradition? How many Indians men in cities were dhoti/pajama-kurta today? No culture can survive when only fifty percent population works to maintain it.
      Clothing has changed and it’s only good that it should change to comfortable and functional and not just superficially aesthetic – because the wearer needs to be comfortable first, and the way we moved from mud houses to marble floored homes, the way we switched from pens dipped in an ink pot, to computers, and from Bullock Carts to cars – it was okay to wear a sari/dhoti when one did not have stitched clothes and easier to maintain clothing. It just doesn’t make any sense now.
      Now Sari for women and Dhoti for men would soon become outfits for occasions.


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  71. Most Indians, and especially those who insist that Bhartiyata is defined by wearing saris hardly know even the I of Indian culture. True Indian culture is hardly practiced anywhere in our country. We love to cling onto useless vestiges, shallow symbols and meaningless rituals and call that as our glorious tradition! What a shame!


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  75. Bakwaas ! saree has been the most popular indian ethnic wear in india for a long time. Wear saree don’t hesitate to drape it. jhansi ki raani saaree pahan ke angrejon se ladi thi. jeans top waliyon ko gunde utha le jaate hain.


    • Women in sarees are safer, do you mean? Such myths are a result of the lack of seriousness with which we deal with sexual crimes in India.

      Underprivileged women in rural areas and in city slums are the most vulnerable to sexual assaults and they mostly wear sarees.


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