The ripped jeans comment by Uttarakhand CM Tirath Singh Rawat has yet again exposed how ingrained dress-policing is in our society. You could be running an NGO, caring for those in need or be the perfect law-abiding model citizen, but nothing matters, all some people will care about is what you wear.
It doesn't take one second for us to label a daughter-in-law as "shameless" if she wears a short skirt or ripped jeans in front of her relatives. Would anyone consider how loving and benevolent she is? Or how she aptly takes care of her ageing parents and in-laws? Or earns an impressive paycheque? What does this say about us? Do we encourage people to be good, or just love the idea of being seen as "good".
While attending a workshop on substance abuse on March 16, Rawat said that ripped jeans pave the way for societal breakdown. "...showing bare knees, wearing ripped denim and looking like rich kids - these are the values being given now. Where is this coming from, if not at home? What is the fault of teachers and schools?"
Rawat also recalled meeting a woman who ran an NGO, dressed in ripped jeans. "It this kind of woman goes out in the society to meet people and solve their problems, what kind of message are we giving out to the society, to our kids?"
So apparently working for an NGO is not enough to impress the Uttarakhand CM, you must look the part too. If a woman is stepping out of her comfort zone to help those in need, and all we can do is scrutinise her clothes, rather than appreciating all the effort that she is putting it, then that says more about us as a society and not in a good way.
By saying that women are sending a poor message out by dressing in ripped jeans, no matter what they do, we are telling young kids that society only cares about the way they dress. Their achievements, talent, compassion, goodwill, etc., will be overlooked by our innate desire to dress police left, right and centre.
What kind of message are then we, or rather Mr Rawat sending out to kids out there? What right does he have to judge people based on what they wear? Why must we let our clothes define us? And lastly, how can we even think of creating an equal world when we cannot even understand that what people wear is nobody's business?
Image Credit: Freekins
The views expressed are the author's own.