Women and The Peer Pressure of Being Fashionable

Sneha hurriedly stuffed the lunch box in the bag of her five year old son and held his delicate wrist after hanging his water bottle on her shoulder. “Let’s go fast, we are getting late’, the small boy had been hearing this statement very often for a year now. He almost ran trying to match the steps of his mother.” Mamma , how come you walk so fast! Papa walks even faster than you!  Why do I have to run to match you?” He started bombarding his questions.  “It is because our legs are taller than yours; when you grow up I will have to run (wondering if that would be possible for her) to match with your steps”. “But Mamma…” “Save your questions for the afternoon, we don’t have time to talk now. We need to reach the bus stop as soon as possible.” They had almost reached the bus stop. She could see other kids and parents waiting for the school bus. The boy ran to his friends. Sneha smiled at the ladies , listening to their chit chat while she caught the eyes of one of them, staring at her from top to bottom making her realize that she was wearing a very old fashioned, crumpled salwar which even had a small hole in it and on the top of it a broken bathroom sleeper. Trying to hide that hole with her palm she avoided the lady’s glance. To her relief, the bus arrived and she along with her son very softly moved towards the bus.

While returning she was caught with the thoughts of her attire and her look. “While my son is usually getting late for the bus, how on this earth can I change my clothes and get ready before leaving for the bus stop? Probably I need to buy a new pair of pyjamas and tees in vogue. “She knew very well that she was being negatively judged as a less civilized and less educated person by those who were much lesser educated than her but enjoyed a status in the society. She could already feel the immense social pressure of fashion.

Pooja, an IT professional and a mother of two found twenty four hours to be much lesser than what she needed to manage a home, two small kids, a demanding mother- in- law and her full time job. One evening, just after returning from her office, she came to know that her mother- in- law had to attend a party with the kids. She opened the cupboard and luckily found ironed t- shirts and trousers for her sons and made them wear those for the party. The moment her husband and her mother-in-law saw the kids they started ridiculing and reprimanding her for her poor dressing sense. “The colour of the trousers does not go with that of the t- shirt. Look at the colour of socks you chose for these trousers. Moreover such trousers are old fashioned now. What will people say? Do you want them to laugh at us?”

Pooja was a studious girl during her student life, and clothes were never there in her priority list. A disheartened Pooja looked at her small kids aged three and six and their expression made it clear that they were facing the pressure of fashion even at a tender age.

Rubina stepped inside the campus of a prestigious college she could get through on the basis of her merit. She was wearing the best formal salwar kameej dupatta she had for her first day in college. Soon, she saw a group of students coming from the other side. Smilingly, she moved ahead to approach them, when she heard, “Dekh behenji hamari taraf aa rahi hai.. kat lete hain jaldi” and the group disappeared. This social exclusion stayed with her for a long time  along with a typical labelling of her. Rubina had to live with this social pressure.

Fashion is a popular style or practice, especially in clothing, accessories, footwear, hairstyle or make-up and implies following these trends. People like Sneha have an objection to following the trend. They would rather like to wear clothes, footwear accessories and make-up based on comfort, convenience, time, budget and mood.

Several people may like to have their own style rather than follow the trend. In order to stand out, they would probably prefer to unfollow than to look like duplicates. Isn’t the fashion world a gimmick played by large business houses and businessmen creating the demand for a new product every other day?

Isn’t this irrational and foolish to judge a person’s social status, level of education, knowledge, wisdom, intelligence , capabilities and what not on the basis of how fashionable or unfashionable a person is? .  Humans initially started wearing clothes and footwear to protect themselves from climatic conditions and other risks, but later the social and cultural function overshadowed this basic purpose.

Today, if a person is not fashionable, the personal identity of a person is at stake. The pressure of peer group and friends and the social exclusion may lead to serious consequences. It is high time; we guard ourselves and our kids from the mounting pressures of fashion.

(This Post is written by our Guest Author, Dr. Mona Sahay, She has completed her MPM from Symbosis, Pune)

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