Women in the city define what it means to them to dress like a woman.
Much outrage followed the announcement by the principal of the Government Polytechnic College, Bandra, Swati Deshpande, this week about the segregation of the college canteen into separate areas for boys and girls. Her tweet suggesting that girls in the college should wear ‘suitable’ clothes since wearing manly clothes leads to a ‘gender role reversal’ and may ‘cause problems like PCOD (Polycystic ovarian syndrome)’ also had the Twitterati protesting the statement with photographs of women in ‘unsuitable’ clothes. After all, what is it to dress like a woman? This is the question we ask the modern Mumbai women from various walks of life, as they share with us pictures of their ‘unladylike’ attire.
Aditi Padiyar, communications manager and avid traveler:
It’s amazing that these things are still a talking point today in 2017. For every step we take forward, people like her (Principal Deshpande) drag us back a century by making statements like this. If she had the slightest idea about Biology or what causes PCOD and how terrible it is for women who have to live with it, she wouldn’t be saying these things.
To dress like a woman, in today’s day and age should mean ‘to dress any way I want to dress’. It’s ridiculous that my wearing shorts or skirts or jeans should even be subject to other people’s opinions. I have climbed mountains, lived alone, traveled alone, and what I wear has had no bearing on that whatsoever.
Aarshi Singh, Fashion blogger:
I have heard many preposterous rumors relating to multiple illnesses, but none has made me laugh more than this ridiculous “scientific” inference defining the possible causes of PCOD. This has left me wondering what it means to dress up like a woman—shades of pink, ruffles, glitter and flares or particular silhouettes of clothing. Who gets to decide which garment is female-appropriate or not? Every individual has the right to choose and wear, whatever they feel comfortable in, not whatever you feel comfortable looking at. A person’s body is their own property and nobody has the right to fix a gender appropriate clothing code. We have no gender role reversals in our heads and know very well what it means to be a woman — whether we wear a graceful Sari, a pair of pants or a jute sack. I have been a tomboy my entire life and much in love with this era of androgynous fashion.
Rutuja Bhagwat (student, and fashion blogger):
I honestly feel what the professor said is rubbish! When an educational authority figure says something like this, it reflects so badly on all of us. I wear t-shirts and trousers but I have never felt masculine or like a boy but yes confident, always. How can someone tell us to dress like a woman? What are the guidelines for dressing like a woman? As girls, we understand our bodies better than anyone else and we know what our limits are. It’s obvious that I won’t wear revealing clothes in a shady place. I know what to wear when. I’m 22; if I can vote for the country, I can definitely make right sartorial choices for myself.
Krisstina Rao (Consortium Coordinator at Atma, an NGO, which teaches under privileged children):
Dressing like a girl for me is wearing anything that makes me confident in my own skin. I’ve tried corresponding to stereotypes, I try wearing dresses ‘to look more girly’, I wear pants sometimes with the purpose of hiding curves, but I realise that it’s so different for each individual. If I were to dress without conforming to gender stereotypes the outfit would conform to how I like dressing as a person. And the female gender has so much versatility in clothing. So I don’t think I currently dress in a manner that leans towards a particular gender. A pair of linen pants and a t-shirt do wonders for me. As it should for everyone. I could wear that everywhere.
Coming to the principal’s statement, I think she’s ill-informed. And to allow someone who’s ill-informed to be heading an educational institution that has something to do with forming younger opinions is scary.
With inputs from Dyuti Basu and Pooja Salvi