Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The politics of dressing up- Narrative 1

Almost a year ago I wrote a post about Saraswati Pujo which is, and continues to be, one of the most read ones on this space of mine. An eventful winter and many ceremonies later, this Saraswati pujo arrived and I finally got to attend one in person after five long years. The festivities, the mirth and the golden hues jamdani would make for an absolutely delicious feel good post...but I have some food for thought and winter adda too.

A facebook post doing rounds and being shared incessantly by many (including many of my erudite friends) shows the juxtaposition of two pictures- one old and one new against each other and asking a pertinent question of our times. The old picture shows an old black and white photograph of two young girl-ladies draped in traditional saris posing in front of the camera in their natural coy and shy manner. A sign of their times may be. I am no one to judge or comment. 
The newer photograph shows two young girls of (probably) Calcutta posing while showing off their well toned backs peeping out from the made to order backless cholis, on Saraswati pujo morning. The caption that goes along is- "erporeo ki bolbe meyera pichiye ache" (Will you still say girls lag behind?) or something of similar tune.

Having taken note of the question posed and the furious amount circulation which makes it in line to beanother stand alone joke on facebook- I do have a question of mine- How is the question of women liberation, blah blah and progress even related to the images of women dressing up differently probably on a scale of 100 years and being playful with their cholis? Does that backless choli ring your modesty bell, mister?

We really are a generation full of stupid people who judge beauty, development and progress by just the way we look...or the way we dress? who told that the person wearing Prada and who dines at the fines of the restaurants is not regressive enough to decide the perfect match for himself  going by the horoscope of the bride? (since that's how it goes till now in most of the cases)

Who is the one to decide that the real life jounrney of a brash young lady from a dingy South Calcutta lane to be one of the most popular and dynamic leader of a very complicated state in India is not a success story- a story of progress- clad through out in her taant sari and hawai chappals?

Who decides if the girl in Purulia who protests against child marriage and under age marital abuses clad in her simple salwar suits has not light years ahead of the girls posing in their backless cholis. I am not disputing their modernity, but who told that women liberation was all about dressing up? Will the brand of lipstick decide how far we have moved?

I am sure many people are conversant with the works of Ashapurna Debi, in Bengali and in translation. She had once very simply portrayed the tribulations and three generations of women empowerment in Bengal through her trilogy of books- 1. Prothom Protisruti 2. Subornolota 3. Bokul Kotha. None of her heroines wore fashionable clothes...but did that make them or the millions of women from post partition refugee families who went out to seek work and defined the economic independence of women in Bengal and India any less progressive? ( Ashapurna Debi was just my reference point here. The same goes with Ismat Chugtai or Mallika Sengupta.)

Who told that those two young ladies from that photograph had not moved ahead of their times while posing in front of the camera?  Or do we just judge a woman by the way she looks- till today? The backless choli hurts and we know why. We still want woman to conform to her very sacred and shy image that goes with our sugar and spice everything nice mindset. So we prefer them nicely covered. In case they are not, the Delhi CM goes out and issues a statement about women not 'venturing' out in the night- even if her professional commitments demand so.

In the end- the thought that clouds my mind is that whether I will be termed a hardcore feminist after writing this one, after all we are tagged one in case we think anything on our own and about our conscience. Thing about it guys!


  1. Next time they have elections in Kolkata, I want to see you contesting. This is too much now!
    I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU....with all the hearts and arrows and kishies included.
    Lady, you are a firebrand! I must say I saw Paushali De in her element today.

    On second thoughts, comment on this http://friedladyfingers.blogspot.in/2012/01/meghpeon-got-married.html

  2. "whether I will be termed a hardcore feminist .........", nothing but a rational person who can see both sides of it.
    But do such cheap "erporeo ki bolbe meyera pichiye ache?" type things really deserve a serious blog post?

  3. I echo Indrajit but this is your space :) You can write whatever you want. As a reader I shared my opinion.


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