Modesty !

Now that it is school holidays a lot of my children’s friends have been coming over to my house. Yaya and her friends had some filming project to do and she wore her usual attire, shorts and a small tee shirt. “How do I look Mom?” She asked.

“beautiful” I replied. ( I must write about telling your children that they are beautiful..that will be tomorrow’s post 🙂  )

As they were leaving, her friend told me ” Sarah, I wish my mom was like you”

I didn’t know why she said that, so when Yaya got back home, I asked her.

Apparently, her friend ( Indian) is not allowed to wear shorts and must wear either skirts that reach below the knee or loose fitting jeans (her mom is  very clear on that skinnies)

Last year, in my youngest’s school there was a mallu girl who wore leggings under her school uniform. You could always spot her in the crowd because she was the only one who wore black leggings in a school of 600 students who wore the normal uniform..which is a knee length dress. ( you have the option to wear the dress or shorts and school t-shirt. My kids opted for shorts and t-shirts)

There are many issues here that bothers me

1. Weather. Summer months are really hot. I wear outfits made of the lightest fabric at work because of the heat.  When it is cold, you can layer up and keep yourself warm..when it is hot, the reverse is true. It is the same reason kids choose to wear is not a fashion statement.

2. Fake modesty. This is one thing that bothers the most. Indian way of thinking..that you are a wonderful, well bred girl if you cover up your body. There is so much wrong in that belief..first and foremost, it is sexualizing a girl by judging her with what she wears. She wears a revealing outfit, she is promiscuous. which is often followed by the rhetoric that  the women wearing revealing clothes are asking to be raped. ( And an elderly nun was raped recently )

3. Rights of an individual. Your children have rights. I know it is easier to say, I gave you life, therefor I choose what you can wear. Shouldn’t that be considered bullying? Def of a bully is someone who use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something. Your belief system is your own. Surely, you grew up in India, wore ‘proper’ outfits that covered you from head to toe and your entire community gave you the award that you are a good girl. But now you don’t live in India and are raising an Aussie citizen, why must you force your values on your children and make them follow dictates that are irrelevant to them culturally?

One of Yaya’s friend wears full length dresses from home and come to school very early, so she could change in to shorts/ mini skirts. She doesn’t work and doesn’t have any income of her own.. so ask yourself, where is she getting the money to buy the second sets of clothes?

When we were living in Malaysia, Yaya wore dresses. It was a joy to find cute dresses, matching hair ties and shoes for her. ( My oldest sister used to buy her beautiful dresses as well) Within a month after arriving in Canada, she started to wear jeans in winter and shorts in summer. It was so disappointing to me because I loved to see her in a dress. But I understood why she opted for jeans. She could only hang upside down on the monkey bar if she wore jeans/shorts !!!! She rarely wears dresses even now. To this day, I have never told her what she can/cannot wear. I chose to get out of India. It was my choice and I will not force my cultural roots on my children, when it was I who wanted to escape.

6 thoughts on “Modesty !

  1. I agree,

    Personally I prefer some modesty, don’t like to show too much skin/cleavage..does not suit me (and no I don’t wear a long sleeved uniform with leggings). I’m not a dressy dress person either and just wear pants, except for special Indian functions, then I love wear Indian dresses like churidars/ salwar kameez/sari. I don’t like being the typical girly girl, don’t wear alot of makeup (except for special occasions) and would proudly go out in pj’s god willing lol. Everyone is diffferent and wear what they are comfortable with. So…

    1. Weather – Agree to the tee!
    2. Fake modesty-common Asian thing, but I find it changing- even in India (exclude the remote conservative areas) now I find it’s changing alot, girls now are starting to get a sense of fashion (guys Kerala they are starting to pierce their ears gangsta style !), wearing jeans, shorts..etc. However, it’s too bad we still have narrow thinking still existing and these people who are a bit more liberated and open in trying something new have to suffocate.
    3. Rights of an Individual – Def side with you there. However, I do not think even if you chose to remain in India and raise your kids there, you would be still able to force and shove your beliefs on them. And if you did, they may rebel w/o your knowledge (believe me, kids there do do things behind their parents’ backs..beat the theory that all kids there will be obedient and “cultured” as it’s far from the truth). . Afterall they are of a different generation, whom I find are thinking much differently than the older ones. That’s not to say there are not many of the younger generations who are still brainwashed to think certain norms are normal, there still are. However with feminism and more frequent contact friendship with foreigners, I don’t think (and hope) India will be the same in the next 20-30 years. It will be a different environment as it was with every country. You may disagree, but I’ve met many Indians (younger ones mostly) who don’t conform to societal norms and are pretty modern and liberal in their thoughts and are not afraid to fight if needed. One of my former roommates was born and bred in Kerala and you’d def see her westernized. She drinks and parties (which I know is a NO NO for mallu girls or women in Kerala, outside Kerala- different story LOL), has a fiance who is not a malayalee..and can stand up for herself. Of course society will label her as a rebel or “bad” girl (she’s very successful and hardworking and still traditional in some ways d/t her being Hindu, but she’s awesome to be around with), but she always told me “hell with society, do what’s right for you, not what others think” (she’s right). Again those I met may be from the more modern places like Mumbai/Bangalore, and certain parts of Kerala as well, but I have a tad hope things will get better. Just got to get together and fight the system and knock the sense into those who are still stuck in 1952!

    • J1206: You missed the point. It is nothing about westernization..It is about inflicting your values on your children when those values are irrelevant to your children.

      • That was the point I was trying to make..what I was trying to say was that regardless where you live, whether in India or elsewhere, you really cannot impose your values on your kids as it’s a whole different generation and era (and part due to globalization, education..going out of your comfort zone).

  2. You don’t have any specific cultural roots Sarah. Its a mixed one. One root in Malasia, one in Kerala and so on. There is no question of forcing anything on children/ Untill they start earning they will oblige parents. If the enforcement is so powerful they start revolting. Otherwise they go with it.

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