I come from a family where my mother used to wear a saree with a pallu drawn over her head at home and also every time she walked out of the house. It took some time for the elders in the family to understand that it was not only impractical, but deep down, it also confined my mother! I was pretty young when this happened, or else I would have tried to change things earlier.
Slowly, with time, my mother became more independent with her job and found heart to step up and give up on things that only brought her down. She started wearing sarees without covering her head, then moved on to wearing salwar suits, and now has progressed to wearing western clothes too! She also had the responsibility of raising two daughters, whom she didn’t want bound in the same cycle, and thus, she let us wear what we wanted to when we were kids.
With time, even that changed, owing to the society and other pressures. Dresses were out, skirts were a complete no-no, and sleeveless tops, or anything that showed too much arm (or leg for that matter) was not allowed. It didn’t really matter when we were that young, but as we grew up, we were interested in dressing up, and doing that came with this challenge.
When I moved away to a bigger city for my graduation, I started wearing what I wanted to. But every time I went back home, I had to pick something that was more “covered”. And this was not because of what anybody would tell me specifically, but it was kind of understood.
My dad, on the other hand, never ever stopped us from wearing what we wanted because he wanted his daughters to have everything that they wished for. He sent us to the best schools and universities and gave us the chance to choose the life we wanted, and I’m proud to say that we’ve turned out just as good. And that’s why we are here at this point, where I can wear anything and everything with confidence.
I still have to think carefully about what I am going to wear in front of my larger family, though, because every time I did try to push that boundary, my mother had to hear caustic remarks, if not me. One time, on a family holiday, someone went: “Isn’t her skirt really short?” My mother didn’t even tell me about this incident, and I only found out from some other nosy family member.
So now, I myself stay away from a mini skirt or a blouse that is open at the back because I don’t want my mother (or anyone close to me) to hear these obnoxious things. Sometimes, it’s the world that stops you, and you become a rebel about it. But sometimes, you land up subconsciously following what you’ve grown up believing.
Even now, when I go back home, I think twice about what I am planning to wear so that nobody points a finger at me or at my parents for giving me that well-deserved right to wear what I want!
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