Can We Please Stop Policing Women For What They Wear When They Go To Meet Men Or Do Things That Don’t Have Specific Dress Code?
If you’re a woman old enough to read this, you’ve at least once in your life been told to change your clothes and wear something ‘respectable’ because guests are coming over. Usually, elder male guests, like granduncles, uncles, cousin brothers, and so on. And occasionally, if you’ve got a particularly nasty female relative, like an aunt or sister-in-law, who loves taunting with every breath, then the same order is repeated. They say clothes maketh a man, but the amount of policing that women have to undergo about their clothes, no man does. There are these unspoken rules, which indicate that women cannot wear certain kinds of clothes before certain kinds of people, because what we put on our bodies decides how much we respect that person. It gets annoying though, when neither parties have any issues with it, but the ‘chaar log’ that make up the rest of the world, do. Take for example, the recent trolling incidents of Neena Gupta and Malaika Arora, or that time when Priyanka Chopra was reprimanded for her outfit choice when she met PM Narendra Modi.
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Neena Gupta, who recently released her autobiographical book, Sach Kahun Toh, wanted to present the book to Gulzar sahab. See how I added the ‘sahab’ after his name reflexively? That’s exactly how organically and instantly respect emerges for this wordsmith and industry veteran. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind at this point about how revered he is in the fraternity. And yet, some people—let’s call them what they are, trolls—thought Neena Gupta going in western casuals to present Gulzar sahab with her book was disrespectful to him somehow. It was none of their business, because Neenaji rocks whatever she dons. But still, some people wanted to play spoilsport. Luckily, the Badhaai Ho actress dismissed her trolls and didn’t take it to heart. But not all women are able to do that.
Also Read: Neena Gupta Writes A Whole Book And Trolls Are Upset That She Wore Shorts To Gulzar’s House
This was two days ago. This morning, I wake up to the news that Malaika Arora was being trolled in the comments section of a paparazzi account that posted a video of her going to her vaccine shot. Why? Because she chose to dress, and dare I say, look smokin’ in her workout wear, when she went to get the jab. Now anyone who has taken the vaccine knows that you’ve got to dress in cool, comfortable clothes, particularly ones that allow easy access to your arm for the shot. She was in fact dressed perfectly well, and nobody should’ve given two thoughts to her OOTD as long as she had her mask on the whole time. Yet, the jobless trolls descended, accusing Malaika of wearing ‘revealing’ clothes for something like this. Now I would ask them to consider the fact that if a woman’s got it, she can flaunt it, especially when she’s worked hard for it. Or that the weather is super stuffy, and her outfit was proper summer wear.
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But really, why should we even justify with all those explanations? The only one that matters is that she wanted to wear it, and so she did.
What happened with Neena Gupta though, took me back to the time when Priyanka Chopra was trolled because her outfit choice for meeting PM Modi was considered inappropriate. Umm, just because she is the desi girl, is there some special onus on her to wear only certain types of clothes? Who died and made these people the fashion and moral police who get to decide what looks appropriate on women and what doesn’t? If there is a dress code to meet the PM, PeeCee would probably have been informed of it prior. If she still chose to wear what she did, and she still got to meet the PM who had no objections to it, then why are others bothered about decorum?
How are women disrespecting anyone by the clothes they put on their bodies? We see so many men, godmen, saints, with their upper bodies completely bare. Is there any issue with respect over there? Men can wear shorts, lungis, dhotis, vests, have every body part other than their genitals out in the open, and that’s considered okay. But a woman bares a little cleavage or shows off some skin, or flaunts her legs, and there is an uproar about her outfit being inappropriate. Maybe the inappropriateness and disrespect is in the eye of the beholder!
We really need to stop telling women that they can’t wear sequins to go grocery shopping. Or can’t wear shorts when sitting in front of male relatives. Or must wear short dresses only when they go clubbing. Fashion is already dictating what looks good or not on women’s bodies. Women are finally combating that and growing inclusive. We don’t need policing especially where there are no dress codes specified. Our bodies. Our clothes. Our choice. Back off!