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.

 

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