Saree the way I want, no rules, no safety pins, my own drapes and being comfortable because being elegant is overrated..
Photos: Vincent Boyer (Say hi on instagram @vincetravelbook)
Here I am wearing a vintage Shantipur tant for brunch in the way I want, no petticoat, no blouse, just a swimsuit top and denim skirt…No big deal, right? But for some people it is a big deal that I prefer to be comfortable, like having fun in sarees and that I wear them in ways that appeal to me.
As women we a brought up being conditioned to think we are never enough, need to be sorry for everything and that we are responsible for things that are actually outside our control.
The multiple ways in which women who wear sarees are shamed by other women are subtle as well as obvious, small as well big and all of it is inescapable. This shaming is a result of arbitrary rules based on outdated notions that we should all be rejecting.
So here are some things I absolutely refuse to apologise for and/or be silent or embarrassed about:
- Wearing sarees in ways that no one else is wearing them: I hate wearing anything in the same way over and over again. The unstitched cloth is my canvas to drape, tuck, pleat, knot and have fun. I refuse to wear sarees in just the traditional ways and I don’t care what anyone else thinks of my experiments. There are no actual experts when it comes to wearing sarees, it is a fluid garment that takes the personality of the wearer. No one knows how I should be wearing my unstitched cloth — not the bullies nor the online trolls, not the rule-makers, or the writers of stupid articles online.
- Wearing blouses that don’t fit the correct notion of a saree blouse: I will wear anything with my sarees, bathing suit top work beautifully as blouses, as do tee-shirts, bandeau that I create out of fabric lying around or anything else that I feel like wearing. If it is offensive to your senses, look away from me and my photos.
- Not wearing a saree blouse at all: Traditionally women from my part of the country didn’t wear a blouse with their sarees, the six-yards did a perfect job of covering them up and then came the Britishers with their stupid notions of modesty that they forced on us. And women in India started to wear the petticoat and blouse under their sarees.
- Not looking elegant or graceful: No longer is the saree solely the domain of the traditional minded but by breaking all the tired rules of the garment I have ensured I can wear it when I want, where I want and how I want. I have no desire to be someone else’s idea of beautiful or elegant or graceful or ANYTHING, I style the fabric that clothes my body the way I want.
- My bra strap peeking out or wearing a bright bra under a light top: Seriously people, its the 21st century and I am a woman, therefore yes, there is a high chance that I’m wearing a bra. Yes, it’s visible through my sheer top and or the strap’s peeking out. No, that does not give you permission to point it out and make a scene. And if you’re so offended by it, just stop looking and everyone can be happy.
- Showing too much skin or wearing loose sweatshirts with sarees: Most people think that a saree must be worn modestly while respecting cultural traditions/ prohibitions. I have no time for that, I am laying claim to the six yards and refuse to wear it in any other way than what appeals to me. I will wear it with skimpy bathing suits top when its hot and with shapeless/ comfy sweaters when its cold out.
- Not wearing any makeup or wearing too much makeup: The fact of the matter is, I can look however I want when I wear a saree and when I don’t—be it with a full face of make-up or a completely bare face. I’m going to continue to choose whether to wear makeup—or forgo it—for as long as I damn well please.
- Sporting bad skin or having hair in the wrong places: Having bad skin days, stretch marks or hairy areas are all natural and there is no shame in that.Constant facials/ peels, shaving etc are painful chore and a duty which cost money, takes time and leaves your skin feeling irritated and scratchy. When life suddenly gets busy or stressful one ends up with a case of adult acne, stubble or unsightly areas. Its fine and there is no need to pretend to be picture perfect all the bloody time.
- Not wearing enough jewellery or wearing too much jewellery: There are no rules to how much jewellery a person should be wearing and that extends to when I wear sarees. Some days I could wear nothing, others I might go out looking like a fully decorated Christmas tree. I dress to delight the eight year old inside of me, people who look at me don’t figure into my plans.
- For being the size and shape I am: I’ve read my fair share of social media posts and open letters over the years that have generally agreed that skinny-shaming isn’t a big deal. The body positivity movement says that all body types should be celebrated, yet people are still shaming each other left and right. Even though it goes against the body positivity movement, society also tends to claim that skinny-shaming is okay because others would “love to be our size”. Screw that!
- Speaking my mind: The Internet is teeming with the vilest human characteristic of all: hatred. Bearing the brunt of these brutal virtual beatings are mainly girls.Those of us with opinions, those if us with independent thoughts or a bold sense of humour, those of us who dare to be different and above all those of us who attain the most precious freedom of all: freedom of the mind. I’m a girl who has always and forever possessed an opinion about what my eyes and ears so keenly observe; I actually can’t quite wrap my brain around the idea of apathy — I refuse to be shamed into being quiet.
- For not being the right balance of traditional and modern: A constant battle is being fought for the right to define what modern womanhood is. Some people would like to enforce what they think is culture, heritage and traditions by attacking those of us who refuse to conform. We are shamed for not getting the balance right. Screw that! GTFO!
I will never again be cowed by bullies or trolls and will never back down from my chosen way of living my life. More on the weave on my previous post on Shantipur tants from West Bengal.