Our clothes, our wardrobe style, does define our identity and self-expression, but it can never speak on behalf of our character. There are narrow-minded bigots rooted all over this country judging continuously, but not justifying their actions; passing comments, but not advancing with the world. Be it elders calling girls who wear short skirts or crop tops, “defilers and shameless” or be it this generation itself labeling such girls and calling them names is not right at all.
Ustat Kaur, who owns a sustainable clothing brand shares her thoughts and tells us that her clothes don’t define her character. When asked about her ideology regarding why skin show is still taboo, she replied, “Personally, I am super confident in my skin–whether I decide to wear a crop top or an oversized T-shirt. My clothes do not define my character. They are simply a part of who I am. I definitely think growing up in India as a woman means you have to constantly moral police your body. I’ve been sexualized endless times but I’ve always been rebellious and it doesn’t affect me anymore. I believe as a brand, with my clothes, I’d like to encourage all the girls to feel more comfortable with themselves and wear whatever the hell they feel good in. However, I can’t promise that people will not ogle. They might but we need to learn to push that aside. (Remember to stay safe!)”
Aniket Satam, a contemporary Indian designer also shared his viewpoints and said, “India has always been liberal in the context of nudity, it’s because of the invaders and colonizers, a lot of social taboos got imposed in our culture. Our sculptures and scriptures clearly reflect how fashion treated skin shows. Why rewind, see the remotest villages and settlements and we will witness how casually some tribes are almost nude in their dressing. I think society as it gets more advanced and cosmopolitan, we become more conscious about our dressing and skin show.”
Over social media, an uprising has been formed where Indian influencers have been open and confident in creating videos and reels with partial nudity. There have been backlashes where such shallow-minded people are often posting negative comments but it is time to accept modernization and urbanization in a stride. Wearing crop tops and showing parts of your body simultaneously abiding by the laws should be acceptable and not abominated.
When asked about how is this taboo limiting your exploration towards different fashion styles, Ustat says, “The skin-showing taboo in India is something we are still yet to overcome. I have always had people come up to me and express how they would never wear the things I make, so yes, I do agree that my style is limited to the people who are willing to explore unique pieces that include a lot of skin-showing.” While Aniket Satam talked about the reason behind this limitation and said, “I think more than old and new mindset it is also about your society and people around you. I think one should be careful and smart enough to make wardrobe choices according to situations and respecting the norms of the place. In the end, it’s about your individualistic choices. Of course, India is progressive in the fashion industry. The beauty of our country is in its diverse polarity and that’s what makes us special. Know your body, understand what’s your best features, learn to accentuate that, and embrace your true self with confidence.”
Lastly, when asked about how older Indian women are accepted when they pair their sari with skimpy blouses but girls wearing crop tops are being made uncomfortable, Ustat replied, “One word: Hypocrisy. It infuriates me to think that people blame women just because men cannot keep it in their pants. Women get raped every single day regardless of what they wear, how old they are, who they are with, and any other illogical factors that are thrown into the mix just to victim-blame women who are just trying to own who they are and do what they like.”
Hypocrisy and prejudices have been rooted so strongly in us that it must take a few sacrifices in order to feel liberated again. Spread awareness, support each other, and wear whatever you desire.
By Navya Mittal