There is a sense that the Saree Wearers’ Club is an exclusive one, limited to women who are married or of a certain age, have a certain body shape and even they wear it in certain ways & on occasions only. Any variation from this invites attack.
I’ve been exploring drapes & styling methods for the saree, YouTube, Instagram, my own creativity as guides. I love the saree for how versatile it is. It is after all, just a length of cloth, modified to body type, region & occasion. The saree is my newest palette, my body an eternal canvas.
I’ve received mixed reactions.
The saree blurs social boundaries as security guards & autorickshaw drivers (who don’t usually target women in my class) jeer & whistle. It confuses middle-class men who make way for me on public transport but stare resentfully.
Many feel my English-speaking, short hair flaunting, liberal self doesn’t fit the saree wearer mold. There are those who ask why I ‘need’ to wear a saree when I’m slim, as if the garment is an apology for a body that doesn’t fit western standards. The takedowns build, listing how my look doesn’t adhere-pallu wrong, shape weird, look funny. “I can’t understand this!” I’m told as if my apparel is a request and as if they get to decide if I get entry to the exclusive club. And I don’t.
I was slut-shamed for wearing a saree to a condolence visit (as reaction to my calling out a sleazy man). The shamer, herself a woman, was saree-draped. Her reaction showed she values only one kind of woman (that I’m not). In her eyes I didn’t merit entry into the Saree-Wearers’Club.
People box women into limited roles. How we dress is one of the labels of the boxes we’ve accepted. My experiments break boxes just by existing. If the very act of dressing is political, this single length of cloth has become my flag. It’s versatile, it’s practical, it has a history but it adapts and it stands for something. Me.
In the picture, I’m wearing a colour-blocked kanjeevaram with a corduroy jacket and boots. I call this the fish-tail drape, pallu doubling up as neck scarf. Like it? Join the club. Everyone’s welcome in mine.
This wasn’t a perfect Valentine’s month. But then, last February was and look how that turned out. Still, I got through it (this one and last year). The journey back to life is neither neat nor straight. At least it wasn’t boring. Here’s what kept me company along the way:
- A truly howl-a-rious thought in tweet via Chandani Agarwal.
- A year ago, I struggled with the burden of the label ‘fiance’. Now I find other people have felt the same burden of the even heavier label of ‘wife’. An interesting perspective gets added by the gay community reclaiming some of these words.: ‘Labels of Married Life, in a New Light‘ (via NYTimes)
- Books and dating – my two favorite topics!: ‘What your Bookshelf says about you to a Date ‘ (via HowAboutWe)
- This sounds like a relationship-in-denial to me, but what the hell? ‘Flirtationship’ is a great word!: ‘20 Signs You’re in a Flirtationship‘ (via Thought Catalog)
- I’d love to know who agrees with this: ‘What your favorite sex position REALLY says about you‘ (via HowAboutWe)
- In my teens, I’ve been pressurized to wear a dupatta ‘properly’ (read: across both shoulders with the bulk of the fabric hanging down covering torso) in Chennai. In the same conversations, I was also told the value of ‘addakam’ (loosely translated as restraint in Tamil) to a woman’s character. I see the connection in this piece, do you?: ‘Tied up in knots: The many meanings of the dupatta ‘ (via The Sunday Guardian)
- Stereotypes. Entertainment. There’s a connection, isn’t there? This is a comprehensive breakdown of every female stereotype and pop culture examples of each.: ‘The Female Character Flowchart‘ (via Overthinking It)
- A common theme in popular fashion poses is to portray the woman as ‘weak, slightly insane and even deranged’. Yolanda Dominguez’s project ‘Poses’ captures real women in daily situations in these poses to highlight this fact.: ‘What Model Poses would look like in Real Life‘ (via Messy Nessy Chic)
- If it’s written by a woman and talks about love & relationships, it’s ChickLit. And what if it’s written by a man?: ‘Women in Love, Only if You’re DH Lawrence‘ (via Annie Zaidi).
“Women writers could go out and wrench such columns for themselves by building a body of work in non-fiction that makes them difficult to ignore. That would mean hardcore research. That would mean a lot of time and energy taken away from creating fiction. This is not impossible to do. But given that their male counterparts get away with merely having opinions, it is also not fair.”
I didn’t post an XXFactored update in February because the month was so busy that I barely had the time to scout for links. Other people however, did share links and I really wanted to showcase them. While on this, allow me a brief crib about the new Facebook page format. It shows the page admin’s links on the main page but other members links in a tiny box. Not cool, I say. It totally kills the spirit of community that link-sharing used to do.
Now on to the links.
- Someone’s idea of what happens to people of either gender when they fail their exams. It sparked off a heated debate. (via Lakshmi Jagad)
- HOWL-a-rious! ‘- 14 Realities of Romantic Relationships in chart form‘ (via Cracked)
- In memory of a remarkable woman and a talented musician laid to waste – ‘I’m Every Woman‘
- I’m sure a whole lot of us will be silently thanking the makers for this handy tool! – ‘5 Signs You’ve Been Stalking Your Ex Online Too Much‘ (via How About We)
- Harsh, hard-hitting….dare I say…true? The undeniably justified cause of gay rights, seems to have become no more than a free ride of attention and entertainment for those so privileged. ‘The Queer Movement is dead; Long Live the Queer Movement!‘ (via DNA Newspaper, link courtesy Dhamini Ratnam)
- A hilarious set of charts – check out the ones mapping people who use Twitter daily versus others. – ‘10 Charts about Sex‘ (via OkCupid)
- ‘Why Indian Men are still boys‘ (via Tehelka, link courtesy Gautam Ghosh)
- ‘No, Catcalling is not a compliment and here’s why’ (via Hello Giggles, link courtesy Ashwini Mishra)
- If this 60s show has sparked off your fancy, here’s a look at some of the female stereotypes of the time by how Don Draper sees them. ‘4 Types Of Women Don Draper has Dated.‘ (via YourTango)
- ‘What Your Favorite Mad Men Lady Says About You‘ (via TheGloss)
- This is totally off the edge – ‘Marketing Xenosexuality: Women & the Sex Robot taboo?‘ (via Future of Sex, link courtesy Gautam Ghosh)
- “Lighten up” can be the most passive-aggressive chauvinistic phrase ever! ‘The Million Little Barbs of Lighten Up!‘ (via BuzzFeed)
- ‘Where Have All The Young Men Gone?‘ (via HR Blogs, links courtesy Gautam Ghosh)
- This is true of any movement – rabidity only works against you in the long run. ‘How Pro-Lifers made me a Pro-Choice Activist.‘ (via TheGloss)
- ‘5 Warnings to go with 5 Types of Men who make great husbands‘ (via From Outside The Mall, link courtesy Gautam Ghosh)
You can catch the links as they come in and even post your own to The XX Factor Facebook Page.