Dresscode


I go to teach at a shelter home on a weekly basis. I teach them Economics in Marathi which means I am essentially fumbling between two textbooks of Economics – one in Marathi and one in English-as the kids get entertained.

Before starting to do this fun activity I was given an induction, along with other new volunteers. In the induction we were told how we need to dress up – no shorts and no sleeveless. Now, I wear neither of those even otherwise, but when you tell me not to do something I feel the urge to do it. That is the difference between a ‘choice’ and a ‘rule’. A choice is something you take pride in and a rule is something you always question. 

What is so indecent about anybody (man’s or a woman’s) armpits or legs. Isn’t that how nature made us? Are you telling me that you think the nature did not do a decent job so we need to now hide it? The educational institutions, workplaces, and other institutions that have these dresscodes are essentially embarrassed at how nature made humans. These are the same institutions that keep talking about ‘change’ – “We want to change the world and all the indecent things that nature has done to it, which involves legs and armpits.”

This is all in our head-the dirt. Thankfully, nature doesn’t care. It has slowly begun to consider us as an indecent job on the whole and has sprung climate change to remove us. 

This obsession with dress code does go way back and has its roots in religion etc. But it is not like the modern liberal society does not have dresscode. It is an unspoken law. If you left school thinking you never have to wear uniform now, think again. 

Every place has a uniform. Your home has a uniform which is torn clothes that are on the verge of becoming a dish rag. Even magazines that speak of civil liberties and how they want to rid the regressive rights in the Middle East which forces women to dress a certain way, will have a page on ‘evening dresses’ that work and the ones that don’t. The late fashion police Joan was no different from other dresscode imposers in the world. It was just said differently. 

If I want to wear a pyjama to the store, I don’t want to worry about some ‘fashion police’ judging me. A fashion police is much worse than a regressive religious nut. A regressive religious nut will tell you what to wear but a fashion police will decide why you shouldn’t wear what you’re wearing after you’ve brought it and paid a heavy price for it. The religious nut will target all a bunch of humans, the fashion police singles you out individually. Neither of them are right and shouldn’t tell anyone what to do.

If I want to enter a store in my jammies- I should be allowed! And if they throw me out then they should be allowed to. Cause I am a woman in a woman’s jammies. They know that they don’t have big pockets so I clearly ain’t carrying cash – so the store isn’t necessarily wrong in throwing me out. 

Pockets. They are a blessing in outfits and I envy male outfits mainly for pockets. I saw an ad the other day and found out in South India they are making mundus(dhotis) with pockets! I mean I was standing there in my pocket less pyjama and realising these designers have had the time to put pockets in mundus but not in female pyjamas that is essentially a pant!*

Have you ever seen the mundus and wondered,”This is basically a soft cotton skirt with a big long slit and it has pockets now. They are white and therefore can be worn with anything. Why haven’t women made this their thing yet? They’ve taken it all from men, shoes, shirts and trouser -why not this?”

You know why? Because those tollywood heroes would wrap their mundus like a ‘man’ in all those fight scenes and made sure the women are so averse to it that no woman ever ‘owns’ it. You see, they’ve set the ‘dresscode’. 

*(Yes, I am aware that there are female pyjamas which have pockets – but I won’t stop complaining until they get to all the pyjamas, not a single one left pocket less.)

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