“In the animal kingdom, the rule is, eat or be eaten; in the human kingdom, define or be defined.”
― Thomas Stephen Szasz
I have recently begun to feel fed up. And I want to initially disclose that I am not expecting everyone to adhere to what I say, as they are my opinions. And you don’t have to agree, that’s the point of living in a civilised society.
Brought up Sikh in a Punjabi culture I have always know the female form to be one you have to cover up and hide. Revealing some skin is seen as shameful and to the extreme extent a way of enticing the ‘wrong’ behaviour. I was always aware of this when I was younger and most of my young life, I was mainly covered up anyway as I was never happy with the way my body looked. I couldn’t ever figure how to dress my ‘shape’ I didn’t seem to fit in with the pear, apple or whatever other shapes you were made to feel you should be. However, as I grew up and started figuring out that I wanted to be skinnier. I started discovering the type of clothes I wanted to wear. And some of these items of clothing never fit into the acceptable Indian girl standards. I didn’t and don’t wear clothes for someone else but me, however if they were to extenuate a certain area so what? I had spent long enough feeling ashamed of my body, I even used to hate the way my skin looked. The creases on my hands used to make me cry and wonder why they weren’t as smooth as the next person. So, now after years of starving myself, not eating certain things, trying any diet or even making myself sick. I realised that you could manipulate your body by using it and moving around and being healthy.
The gym became somewhere I could control the one thing I thought I was unable to change. And so, the more I realised clothing I didn’t think was possible to look good on me was something I could wear….well why wouldn’t I? I wanted to feel good and clothes make me feel good. That’s my form of expression and pride. Still to this day, I get the ‘look’ from my father as I walk out of the door wearing something he doesn’t approve of. I mean at least he sees what I wear as I leave and I don’t have to completely change when I am outside of the house (full disclosure I may on occasion worn tights and taken them off or worn a jacket over a top I didn’t want him to see).
I had to always say to him, I know how to dress I am a lady. Some of you I can imagine would smirk at this comment as you may have seen something I have worn and made some judgement. But at the end of the day its skin and its my skin for me to show. What would you all do if Eve hadn’t eaten the apple? You would all be naked now…..
And yes, to that most would be like well she didn’t, or, I don’t believe in that anyway. Which is fine but really who are you to tell me what I can or can’t wear? The judgement you have decided to bestow upon me is from what you have been told is right or wrong by society. Who are you to tell me how to express myself? And because of this judgement I have spent time catering what I wear so I won’t get looks? And please don’t think all I want to do is walk down the road scantily clad. Some days I am fully covered and even then you still get the x-ray eyes of a man screening what you are wearing. Other day’s I am not and the rest of the days I am somewhere in between. Women’s bodies have been exploited and we are being punished for it.
I, even have to consider the fact that I enjoy clothes and fashion means that some people will think that’s all there is to me. I have sat there a number of times, considering how I would be taken more seriously and whether that would take me wearing ‘dull’ compliant clothes to be seen as something more than just a mannequin that wears clothes.
It doesn’t matter how you carry yourself outside, the way you move, the way you behave are things people seem to take into consideration. You are apparently what your assets make you. I do sit and think I should wear conservative clothes so my father isn’t ashamed but me wearing those clothes doesn’t make me certain way. I am the one who is in the club shooing away male attention my family and friends don’t want, the one dancing around all my friends and enjoying their company whilst shielding them from any threats and not scoping the room for any potential (which isn’t anything that is wrong), I am the one chaperoning everyone from one place to another, checking they are all ok. I am the one you would find as part of the group of single girls who decide to go out and wingman each other but all end up drunk together, making speeches on tables with chopsticks commending all the friends in the group and telling each other how much you all love each other. Finally ending up at my doorstep drunk and not spending an a iota of time realising there are people around you let alone men. But all those things can be lost if you slightly change that behaviour to once benefit yourself. Then all you are as a person is lost and you become ‘that girl’. Most people don’t even realise that they are doing it and in all honestly I don’t hold anything against them and I am not writing this to at anyone its just the way in which I feel and have felt for most stages of my life.
I believe its more relevant to air these thoughts now because I hope this movement for women continues, we need to commend the strength of women, we are able to achieve so much we can’t let these negative ideals keep bringing us back down and let us question ourselves.
And so to that you have to decide to be the person you are, knowing you aren’t intentionally hurting someone. Realise that judgements will be made about you, however you are. You can’t be the one to let people change who you are.
One person who has helped me not care so much is my youngest sister, whether its her being an absolute millennial (no offence) or the fact that she so plainly realises that other people’s opinion doesn’t matter. She has given me more strength to be who you are, she’s always the one people want to be around. She’s the one who will act like a fool, walk out in an airport drop off in a bear dressing gown and look at you as if you have lost the plot. Many people may not get her or wonder where she came from but in reality she is living life in the way everyone should. Life is too short to care about what someone is wearing, consider taking time out to find out what they are about, after all you are not meant to judge a book by it’s cover….
I mean Drake and Chris Brown say it better….
“You got it girl, you got it
You got it girl, you got it”