Thoughts on dress codes and the thoughts behind dress codes

I have a whole lot to stay on the subject of Dress Codes. Maybe it is a good thing, in some ways, and maybe it is necessary (although none of the reasons why it is necessary really satisfy me personally). But it all depends on how it has been imposed and the rules that have been set.

I go to an all girls’ college, and up till now our dress code had been pretty lenient. Actually in comparison to other colleges in a country like India, we had almost no dress code – we could wear pretty much whatever we liked. And so, we were super shocked and not to mention utterly outraged to hear that the new principal was going to tighten the dress code. Firstly because we were used to wearing what we wanted to, and that gave us a sense of freedom and pride – that we were not restricted from showing our own unique personalities. Because that is what dressing essentially does, in my opinion anyway (apart from the need to cover ourselves, obviously). It is a form of expression, and it is unique for every individual, and is something that should be respected, not judged. And secondly, because some of the new dress code rules made absolutely no  sense. Like, for instance, no wearing jeans. Now I don’t know why most college authorities here have some sort of personal vendetta against this particular piece of clothing. But more on the really stupid rules later (rules that I highly doubt anyone in my college is going to follow).

Personally, I think such strict dress codes are the epitome of stupidity. And it is through these small rules that the mentality and way of thinking of those who implement them is evident. So what if her arms are “exposed”? So what if the pants hug her legs perfectly? So what if she isn’t wearing a dupatta? Are you trying to say that a woman should cover herself completely where ever she goes? Why, because she might attract unwanted attention? She might provoke men? It is thoughts such as these that make me so, so mad. And it is bad enough that such a way of thought exists, without it having been forced upon us, as well, in the form of such dress codes.

Dress codes should be mere guidelines that inform a person what is appropriate for a certain situation and what isn’t. And college should try to mold people who can think and decide for themselves what is appropriate and what isn’t, not impose stupid rules that genuinely make no sense. Not label certain clothes as “decent” and others as “indecent”.

Girls should be brought up to have a mind of their own and to be able to think for themselves. We should be the only ones who can judge whether our own clothes are “indecent” or not, and not anyone else. Jeans are not indecent. Sleeve-less tops and Kurtis are also not indecent. Skirts are not indecent. Shorts are not indecent. What makes them indecent is a narrow mind and a perverted gaze. And yet the blame is on us.

And you know what such a mentality does? It suffocates women. It suffocates me. Because I find it hard to believe that so many people still take it as a universal fact that a woman’s body is just an object, not a living, breathing thing capable of thought and feeling. Just an object that distracts, provokes and corrupts. Correct me if I’m wrong. If there is some other reason as to why we are told such things, please, tell me. Because from where I see it, society is objectifying and sexualizing women and their bodies all the more by telling us how to dress and what to “expose” and what not to.

Are her shoulders seen? Is her midriff exposed? Are her arms exposed? Are her knees covered? Well why don’t you just cover us up entirely, cover up our bodies, cover up our mouths and ears and then our noses, so then we really can’t breathe anymore.

 

Why writing keeps me from going crazy.

I have this habit of keeping a journal. I’ve written about six journals till now, I started when I was eleven. Just a month back, my last journal got over, and I didn’t have time to buy a new one. I still am not finding time (or money) to buy the perfect journal to start putting down all my thoughts in.

You see, I have too many thoughts. And I sometimes feel like there isn’t room for all of them in my head, and there are so many of them that they’re all bunched up and tangled around each other and I can’t make any sense of them. That is the reason I write. Writing gives me clarity of thought, it helps me clear up the chaos in my mind. It gives me an escape by not escaping.

I write when I’m upset, I write when I’m happy, I write when I’m angry and I write when I’m bored. My best friend once told me that I was lucky that I could channel my emotion into something like writing, and let it all out – “If I’m upset, that last thing I’d feel like doing is writing or drawing or anything, I’ll just be like screw that shit, I’m going to sit in bed and cry. Not write or draw or something.” I guess we all channel our emotions in different ways. And the way I’m most comfortable with is writing.

My journals aren’t boring. They have a lot of photos, chocolate wrappers, small stories, labels, tags, sketches, lists of songs, post cards and other such random things (apart from all the writing, of course) – small fragments of my memories. My journals are very dear to me – not because they hold all my big secrets and all those sorts of things, but because they helped me get through a lot of things merely by being there to listen. Because they helped me let things out and ease my mind, because they helped bring order into the chaos inside my head, because they helped me remind myself of my goals and dreams and that I have to keep pursuing them.

I don’t know how you let things out. I don’t know if you even want to let things out. But I do want to sometimes, and this is how I do it. Maybe keeping a diary is too boring for some people (hey, to each his own!). I don’t really write in it every day – sometimes the interval between two entries might even be a month – but i can’t do without it. Because without a diary/journal/some special personal book to write in, I go so insane, and my mind becomes a real mess. I remember there was a time when I wanted one so bad it drove me mad!

I hope I get time to go out and buy myself a new one SOON.

 

Confessions I’d like to make.

1) I can (and I have) finished a whole jar of Nutella all by myself in a single day with nothing but a spoon and my fingers.

2) I am a complete noob when it comes to sports and games. I don’t even know how to ride a bicycle. But thank God, at least I know how to swim.

3) I sometimes hate my body, but I’m trying to love it, to love myself just the way I am.

4) I cry when I watch Disney’s Bolt. For almost all the scenes. So you don’t want to sit with me when it’s on.

5) I hate yoghurt and curd. But I love milk, I don’t know why that is. I can drink like four glasses of chilled milk in a day.

6) I HATE it when people stereotype others. I read somewhere that ‘Stereotypes are the views of the small minded’ and I think that that is so true.

7) I am the clumsiest person ever.

8) I am in love with four different men at the same time, and not even one of them know I exist. *sighhh* (Just in case you were wondering – Robert Downey Jr, Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake and Channing Tatum)

9) My OTP is Lydia and Stiles from Teen Wolf, and I ship them so hard that I might actually cry if they don’t happen.

10) I believe in magic. I’ve believed in magic ever since I read Enid Blyton.

11) I cry more when I’m angry than when I’m sad. How weird is that.

12) I only respect those who respect me. Children have always been taught to respect their elders and all that, but I don’t agree. They should be taught to be polite to their elders, but respect only those who respect them. Some weird psycho logic, but anyway.

13) I have a pet whale. It is a soft toy, not a real whale (obviously). And I can’t, I can not, fall asleep if Whaley isn’t with me. (Um, yes, I’ve named him Whaley.)

14) I can’t cook, it’s time I learnt how to. I can only make a somewhat decent omelette. That’s about it.

15) I make a lot of useless lists. Like this one.

Whaley

 

Why I love swimming so much.

I absolutely love to swim. And I love water, it is my favourite element out of the five. I enjoy swimming, and I try to do it as often as I can. I wasn’t able to go swimming during the summer holidays because I’d gone back home, and I didn’t have a membership at the pool there – and I couldn’t take one either, because I wouldn’t have been there continuously for two months. And two days ago, I got back (to the city where I’m currently living and studying in). And today I finally went swimming – after almost two months of not even entering a swimming pool. The feeling was ecstasy.

 

I love everything about swimming – the cool, blue water, the smooth way it moves when you cut across it and the way the water just lifts you up ever so gently. I love the way sunlight sparkles on the water and makes dancing, shimmering patterns on your skin under water. I love to just float on my back and look at the sky – especially when I swim at night.  Swimming gives me a different kind of joy, a sort of peace of mind, and it makes me feel so calm and happy. It helps me clear my mind, it helps me think.

A couple of years back, I went through an extremely horrible phase. I was in depression, and didn’t know what to do about it. I hated feeling so weak and helpless, and I wanted to – I had to – do something to stop feeling that way. And so I started swimming. I’d go every single day, and I’d do laps. Up and down, up and down. Every time I went from one side to the other, I kept repeating the goals I wanted to achieve in life in my head, and told myself that I would achieve them if I got to the other side. And every time I did reach the other side, my confidence in myself would grow a little, and that made me happier. I wasn’t a really good swimmer then, because I’d only recently learnt how to, but I kept at it. And I’m happy to say I’ve improved greatly since then (not that I’m a great swimmer now, but I swim well enough).

Whenever I’m swimming, I’m the happiest.

And that is how swimming helped me overcome the most troubled phase of my life, it pulled me out of depression, and helped me feel happy again. It mended my shattered self-confidence, and helped me focus on the things in life that really mattered. And that is why I’m so in love with it. Because it gives me strength – not just physically, but mentally as well.

Eve teasing is so not okay.

I am sick, so completely sick, of this issue called eve teasing. The number of times it has happened to me, the number of times it has happened to my friends and other girls I know, the number of articles I have read about it – makes one shocking fact so clear: that eve teasing is a very, very common thing nowadays. And this has pushed me into writing about this one incident of the many other incidents of eve teasing that has happened to me.

Once, a couple of my friends and I were waiting to be picked up by a friend of ours. We were standing in front of a closed shop, and the road was relatively deserted. One of my friends was adjusting the other’s hair, and so they didn’t notice when a guy on a bike parked behind them. I turned to ask if I could borrow some lip gloss, when I felt his gaze on me. I looked at him, and he half-smiled at me, and it took me a split second to realize what he was doing.The zip of his jeans was open, and his hand were around his – well, you know what, and they were jerking. I looked away instantly, horrified, I didn’t know what to do.  I was so horrified, I couldn’t speak or scream. And then I heard the bike zoom past us, and I finally had the courage to look up. I was still in a state of shock when I saw him look back at me and smile. I was disgusted, repulsed beyond anything. My friends, who had had their backs toward him, hadn’t seen anything.

I was pretty innocent then, I guess, (and also I was new to the city) because I didn’t even know that people could do such things. That’s what shocked me the most. When I told my friends about it, they consoled me, and they said such things were actually quite common. And when I went home, and told my cousin about it, she said it had happened to her too. Same with another college mate of mine, although she told me she’d thrown her hot coffee at the man for that.

There are a lot of things I wish I could have done at that time, lots of things I wish I had yelled at that guy. But at that moment, I was so unprepared (not that you can ever be truly prepared for such a thing to happen to you) and I was so infinitely shocked, I was rendered speechless. But I got over it. I’ve got no choice but to get over it, and to get used to the fact that such things happen.

But see, that’s the problem. It is not okay. It is so not okay.  Such things happen, and we should not  be getting used to this. A world in which it is normal to get leered at on the road because of what you wear or what you are is so definitely not okay. And that’s what I want everyone to know – even us, women. It’s not right to simply “get used” to the fact that we get eve teased. Because that is a wrong thing. And we should let people know how wrong it is, and that we are totally not okay with it. We should stop trying to lead our lives around it, trying to get home early, or not go out late or alone or wear a jacket over a sleeveless top when we’re on the road – just so that we don’t “bring it upon ourselves”.

It will take a very long time to change the way some people look at women, and to completely stop eve teasing (or at least bring it under control to a certain level), but every step taken is a step closer to that end. And the very first step is to let the world know : that it is not okay, and that women are never going to, and should never be expected to “get used to it”, and that eve teasing should not be a common phenomenon in a woman’s life.