So this past week, people have come up to me and asked me to change the way I dress. I’ve heard it all, “this is constructive criticism”, “not a personal attack”, “it’s for your own good”, “people here are very superficial and will talk about you behind your back and ruin your reputation because of the way you dress”, “you represent the girls from our institute and thus your responsibility extends to other people and doesn’t just end at you”.
Why do I wear clothes that are “different” from those of people around me?! There are so many answers to that question. I do it because I’m comfortable in them. I like myself in them. I do it to express individuality. I do it to express the fact that I am my own person, with my own unique style, taste and choices. I do it because I am sick of stereotypes and our nation’s stereotypical way of thinking.
A girl wearing jeans is “easier” than a girl wearing Shalwar Kameez. A girl who wears sleeveless tops or shirts is vulgar because she is trying to show off her skin. A girl who doesn’t wear a dubatta obviously has no self respect. We all talk about these stereotypes, and what’s funny is that we agree that these superficial ideas and this shallow way of thinking is NOT a good thing, yet we still focus on changing the people who want to exercise their freedom of choice and autonomy, snatching their right to choose from them and calling it “adaptation”, “an adjustment”, “a way to fit in”, instead of rebelling against these popular rather twisted ideas, and standing up for people’s right to choose the best for themselves by themselves. Your elders console you with the logic that since you can’t change the world around you, it’s better you change yourself, and how changing the way you dress isn’t really changing yourself. But isn’t it?! Every choice I make defines the person I am. Every time I choose to style my hair or just tie it up in a messy knot, it speaks volumes about how I feel and the image I’m trying to portray. Every peice of accessory I choose to decorate myself with says something about who I am. So taking that choice away from me… asking me to give it up in exchange for acceptance in a society that has no appreciation for individual differences, no room for acceptance, and no tolerance for anyone who expresses individuality is almost asking too much. Do I even WANT to be part of a group of people who are that inflexible in their beliefs that they can’t tolerate someone ELSE not abiding to them?
You tell me that I am right. You tell me that I have a point. You tell me that the only time that I will be able to achieve complete freedom is when I achieve absolute power. But then again, quoting peter parker, “with great power comes’ great responsibility”. I will never be completely free to choose what I want for myself, as long as I keep bowing to the constraints that the society I’m in has set, without my consent, without my advisement, without my knowledge, for me !
Why is it that people aren’t just happy with sticking to their beliefs without trying to enforce them on others around them as well?! I do what I do for myself, to myself, and as a result harm no one, and ask no one to follow my example. Why is this unacceptable?