Is fashion a friend or a foe?
Is it an evil that has descended on Earth to make the rest of the poor majority feel more miserable than they already are! And the blessed ‘few,’ i.e., those who can afford it, fashionable and the new it in the town?
What is the meaning of beautiful, and what makes us so?
The fashion magazines are full of people covered in make-up, wearing clothes many would detest wearing to on an office day, to school or to the market.
Their glossy pages make one think of the poor child they saw at the roadside who could not afford even a cheap notebook. One wonder what purpose does it all solve?
I abhor high-heels; the latest fashion trends; and also make up — better let the skin be as it is — not hiding the pimples, the freckles, the spot, the blemishes, and the sun burns.
Some people have problem with that
People have judged me on my sartorial choices and told me, ‘Why don’t you take care of your hair and your skin?’
I reply with a smile (of course I don’t want to break acquaintances for something as trivial) and a tinge of sarcasm, ‘Why don’t you take care of your own business?’
One woman had actually said to me (I am not making that up!), ‘Don’t worry, you are going to Mumbai now. It will teach you to dress up properly!’
I laugh at these silly things, but in front of them, I remain silent and just nod. They tell so solemnly that I just hate to break their heart. I have learnt there is no point in arguing with people. They are not going to convince you otherwise, and vice versa. And I like to wear clothes that are comfortable.
Why should I wear a six-inch sandal that would make me look good, instead of a flat base sandal that would make me feel good when I walk?
High heels are a beautiful, but they are not for everyone
Of course, wearing high heels is not a bad idea. But when I see women wearing high heels and running in a metro station or climbing the stairs of a mall with a little baby in their arms, I certainly feel surprised.
Did fashion practices demand them to do so? I hope not. We are grown-ups and are free to make our life choices, except the fact that we are constantly bombard us with 24/7 advertisements!
Each ad telling us to buy this, wear that, apply this and eat that. They tell us that if you are not tall, fair, lean, and have thick hair, somehow you are not worth it.
That you must use their product to make you these things, and then you will receive a permanent address in the la-la land called — contentment and happiness.
Being presentable is not enough
For me, fashion trends are a nightmare. When I go to formal parties, I like to wear a clean, beautiful, well-ironed saree and a pair of flat base comfortable sandals.
Yes, I have sometimes worn shoes with saree and salwar kurta, and I just love it. But we are all humans and sometimes have to give in to the peer pressure — with clear limits of course.
But somehow, for others, that is not enough. They will want you to straighten your hair, buy expensive silk sarees, and wear high-heeled sandals.
All hell will break loose if a matching necklace and a pair of danglers goes missing. Their critical eyes will look at you and gauge the amount of your mascara, lip lines, lip shades, lipsticks, eyeliners… or the lack of them.
The list is long. I respect their choice; I wish if only is people stop commenting on other’s choices.
I asked one of my fashion conscious friends one day, ‘Why do you wear all that heavy make up?’
‘That makes me feel good,’ came the reply.
‘Do you know what are all the chemicals that go in the making of these products, that the popular actress wants us to buy? Are they harmful or are they good? What are their long-term effects on our skin?’
She just laughed and brushed my concerns aside.
The marketing companies employ a big team that is out there to convince us that without their products, our life is futile. They have money, resources and, of course-promotions to cajole you into buying stuff that you don’t want — let alone need.
No matter what we do with our exterior, we will always be us.
We cannot become someone else. I won’t say — and that’s the beauty of it, because there is no beauty in being us or being someone else.
Being is not beautiful — being is difficult; hopeful and hopeless; happy and sad; angry and calm; beautiful and ugly; being is — in a nutshell — a myriad of emotions that we go through during our mundane existence. Being is just our inner world, that is not affected by the outer world of fashion.
Even if we become someone else, we will still be us, and then we would want to become someone else yet.
I studied at a university that promoted Khadi. I was in my master’s degree and had to wear khadi uniforms twice a week and khadi/cotton salwar-kameez for the rest of the days.
Like everyone else, I got a small almirah in my hostel room and my entire stuff for two years; clothes included fitted perfectly well in that. I loved that place! There was no fuss about clothes any more. Less was more. We were happy!
We did not follow any fashion guidelines we wore no make-up, no jewellery, no expensive clothes, no high heels, still we were happy. Those who try too hard to look happy would cringe at the idea and maybe disbelieve it.
Why should we tire ourselves with impossible standards?
When I go to a party and look at the women covered from head to toe in make up, wearing a smile and saying, ‘You look gorgeous’ and replying, ‘thank you’ with an equally strained smile to each other, I recoil —I feel like an outcast; I don’t belong here.
I belong to a place where people are not concerned about their looks — just like my old university — with a khadi uniform and flat sandals and maybe a jhola, to give me that complete intellectual look. Glasses, I already wear.
‘You sound like a cynical and frustrated sixty-year-old woman with an inferiority complex about her looks, enhanced by the fashion-conscious women around; whose husband doesn’t speak with her; whose only child – even after repeatedly reprimanding him — doesn’t call her; and who sits idle at home waiting for some happenings to come along her way!’
My sister said when I showed this article to her. We both laughed.
Choices made with awareness makes the difference
My sister is all for fashion. She said, ‘Fashion adds colour and variety to our lives. It gives us an opportunity to try something exciting and new. Don’t you get bored by wearing the same thing daily? Well, I do.’
It ultimately boils down to individual choices. But, pro or against — don’t let others decide the meaning of fashion for you.
We must try to erase all the influences that our mind has gained over all these years — and ask a simple question next time we make a sartorial or make up or footwear choice. Does it make me look good or feel good? The choice will be easy.
Image Source: Nur Aziz from Ziez Studio, free on Canva Pro