Personally, I don’t know if it’s because of how Instagram has evolved, or the people using it, or, well, me. Among its most wonderful sights – jaw-dropping beautiful travel destinations; delicious-looking home-cooked South Indian food neatly arranged on a stainless steel plate; doodles and handicraft – what I love about the platform is watching people, mostly women, dressed up.
Alok Vaid-Menon is one half of the trans South Asian performance duo from New York, DarkMatter. Vaid-Menon was gender-assigned male at birth, identifies as transfeminine (that is, identifies with femininity to a greater extent than with masculinity) and prefers the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘their’.
Now, You Can Go Home is a compilation of photo works created in the past two years and continues to be an open project where each photograph performs a story about explorations of different characters providing glimpses of them in fear, self-acceptance, longing and celebration.
Then came a time when this small-town simple Sati Savitri-esque girl moved to a big city. Sucked into city fashion, she couldn’t resist skirting sinful hemlines and being trapped in T-shirt tapestry. All her sanctity theories about clothes were thrown in the trash for good. In the process, she happily shed her desi avatar by shedding her saris and proudly embraced the ‘modern’ attire.
“Large will not fit you.” / She is scoping me, up and down, eyes / Flicking fast and darting away / From the roundness of my breasts / To the happy jiggle of my thighs.
Bollywood’s period dramas have a history of misrepresenting the past. From Mughal-e-Azam (1960), where the story of Salim’s rebellion is wrongly attributed to love, to Bajirao Mastani (2015) portraying Balaji Bajirao as a Marathi superman, Bollywood cannot seem to get the history right in historical fiction. The trailer and posters of Ashutosh Gowariker’s Mohenjo Daro indicate that this tradition will be perpetuated.
I did my schooling and higher studies in Delhi. Thanks to a compulsorily uniform attire at school, the differences in socio-economic backgrounds of students were successfully erased. But as one enters college, one’s attire gets significant attention, especially for a person from a weak socio-economic background. This transition period from school to college is also the age of sexual anxieties, experiments and experiences.
Despite the intervention of many well-meaning aunties and friends over cups of chai, I don’t think I was aware of how truly strange, let’s even say ridiculous, I looked at the time. Because although I was wearing kurtis nearly every day, I didn’t really understand the ‘rules’ of wearing kurtis.
There it was the road I was looking for, / Where I walked in my night dress / under the morning sun, / with no sleeves and no legs / with no bra and no shame.
Purushu talks about his new fashion line, about the connection between attire and gender roles, the social statement cisgender people make when they wear gender-neutral clothing, and how the rise in gender-neutral clothing will affect the way we think about masculinity.
The link between women’s clothing and patriarchy is important to acknowledge and understand if we are to address some pertinent questions around women’s agency and ability to exercise control over their choices, bodies and sexuality – questions that feminists around the world, including in South Asia, continue to struggle with.
There’s always another way of presenting a look, attire, accessories and bodies; of presenting the way we feel about ourselves and our sexuality, of presenting an acceptance of diversity.
Where perhaps attire traditionally demarcates community identity (one’s tribe, religion, caste, class, etc.), it has in more recent times (along with other identifiable commodities) come to also be used to express, assert, assess, control and contest individual identity. How does sexuality come into play in matters of attire and identity? And how do they all relate to how we live and connect with each other?
Sub-Saharan Africa itself is very diverse. There are Muslims, Christians and people whose cosmological beliefs and practices hark back to the thousands of years before the arrival of the monotheistic faiths. South Asia has also had some cultural impact, particularly in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. Against this general background, it is not surprising that notions of feminine modesty, which influences the regulation of dress, vary across regions and religious traditions.
Want the perfect bikini body to flaunt? Or do you just want to be able to wear what you want without worrying about whether you can pull it off? Here’s an easy tip anyone can use.