What do I wear ???

An absolutely brilliant post by Shail, made me write this.

Among all the good things in Chennai, lies a totally backward conservative society.  Now Chennaiites, do not jump on me, but this is an honest realization through my experience. If you have not faced such a thing in Chennai, pls do tell me all about it.

Since the favourite clothing of the three girls at my home is jeans, one can always spot us in one.  Tees, tops, kurtis – anything is fine to go with it. Before moving to Chennai, it’s always been “we wear what we like” attitude. And we were so happy with it.

I am not saying that there are no men in Hyderabad (our previous place of residence) who take advantage of women, because of their clothing.  But we were never put to uncomfortable situations because of the clothes we choose to wear.

After shifting to Chennai, the whole scenario changed.

The day I go out in a Capri, people stare – rudely. Its uncomfortable.

When the girls go out in their jeans and tee – still people stare, rudely.

My daughters, who never used to like wearing the Kurtis, are forced to wear them now because that’s the culture of Chennai and it demands them to live along with a society.  Not only that, you are supposed to wrap the whole upper torso with another stole / dupatta – forget the fact that you are living in a tropical climate and it’s terribly hot and humid to be dressed like that.  Here’s a society that wears Business suits to work place, in the tropical climate of Chennai. Isn’t it important to feel comfortable in the dress you wear ???

Even after following all these, people stare at you – both men and women. Sometimes it feels like that they are totally disrobing the person mentally. Its disgusting, uncomfortable and I hate it.

If this is the scenario for people who wear a pant and a totally torso covering clothes, what happens when the woman wears a sari, which  in my view is more provocative than other clothes.

So, eventually it comes to the point that it’s the animal instincts in men that makes them stare rudely at women, disrobe her mentally and its this instinct that needs to be brought under check.

But what puzzles me is the women who stare rudely at other women, eyeing their clothes, commenting on the jeans (especially) and bringing up their own sons in a terribly destructive, conservative way filled with hypocrisy !!!


25 Replies to “What do I wear ???”

  1. I am fed up to here with this clothes drama. The situation is no different in Kerala. It is another “stare-zone” You get stared at anyways, just for being a female, because you are well groomed (though in the most traditional of clothes) and more so if you wear jeans (I never wear them when I am here)
    Recently a new thought has come to me. Why is any dress called “provocative”? It shouldn’t be. Women may said to be wearing clothes that reveal less or more. But how can it be called ‘provocative’? Provocation is in the mind/head of the provoked. What can anyone else do about it? The person decides to be provoked by sari/jeans/salwars/swim wear or whatever. What has the wearer to do with what happens in the head of the looker?! It is for the ‘provoked’ to control what is happening in their head.
    Will the state/society/police/judge forgive if a murderer says he was ‘provoked’? But a rapists/harassers are given a crutch, the ‘provoked’ crutch.
    How much more proof does society want to understand what anyone wears is not the reason for molestation?!!


    1. See, this is what pisses me off – not being to wear my favourite clothes wherever you are !!!

      Exactly – the provocation is not in the dress but in the mindset of the person who is provoked…I wish for better standards to live by.


  2. Hopped here from Scribby

    I can so imagine how stupid that feels wearing a stole over a kurti in the Madras weather…I would go crazy..

    But you are right…I have noticed that about Madras..people are definitely more conservative..though my SIL who lives there, cares two hoots..she dresses up in tight jeans and t shirts and says let them stare if they want, I dont care!

    I on the other hand, would try and blend with the crowd..which is when you think about, very stupid…I should wear what I am comfy in right?


    1. Welcome here R’s Mom !!! 🙂
      Exactly….at my age, being a mother a two, I can show the attitude of not caring for the people who stare at me…but my teen-girls, are so much disturbed by this attitude.
      Actually we are going crazy buying more stoles than dresses here…. 😉


  3. I feel the same way about hyderabad.It used to be conservative few years back but it is not now.

    What you said is so right that women pass on their conservative way to their sons who in turn wants women to fully cover herself.


  4. Like Shail said, this post reminded me of Kerala. Although the trend is slowly becoming better, for the most part, dressing remains very conservative (except in cities like Cochin, and some parts of Trivandrum). The stare culture remains.

    I usually wears my churidars n salwars when going back home. In this case I welcome the opportunity because I usually wear western dresses otherwise, so it’s a refreshing change to wear traditional stuff. But to stay there permanently and wear that only? No way. Goombye please! 😐


    1. To experience the stares as a resident of the city, really makes one irritated.

      Kerala is a lot like TN, in the stares and the nightie culture too !!! 😀


  5. you are right end of the day we are animals and the animal instinct does not go .. civilized or not civilized we are still the same ..

    hence all the problems happening .. I dont know what or how to change this sick mentality.. We want to follow west on everything maybe we shud take theier mentality too of not being the way we are .. here people wear what they want and no one gives a second look …
    if you know what i mean ..


  6. It’s the same story everywhere, though the degree of conservatism may vary a bit!
    The recent comment from the DGP Hyderabad is the last straw. It’s all sickness in the mind! 😦
    Gosh… wearing stoles in the hot and humid weather!! 😐


  7. I think the ‘dare to stare’ habit is quiet common across the country..

    it only doesn’t matter where people with ‘who cares’ attitude are in majority ..I’m saying this from my experience in Mumbai..there no body really cares who is staring your for what! may be ‘wearing’ the ‘I don’t care’ attitude dilutes the intensity of the stare?


  8. Wonderful post Uma! 😀
    I know how it feels when people stare. That’s the way it is here in Delhi too. No matter what you wear, there will always be a couple of people who will eye you from this corner and that. There will always be people – bhadralok – so to say, who will claim it is women like you who are responsible for the increasing crime rate. And no matter how much they are lectured, they refuse to change their stance. I have called it hypocrisy, I have called it insanity. Now, after ensuring I wear what I like and keeping it within my limits of proper dressing, I simply call it go-to-hell.


  9. You just said what my heart was thinking. But trust me Uma, I faced all this, and I had 8 stoles while just 3 jeans with me 😦
    During college and work days, I used to wear the stoles all the time till I went to the office..Inside the office, the culture is different! But when you walk on the roads, atleast 8/10 eyes look at you with X-ray eyes and peep in..which just tears me apart! I never faced this problem in bangalore at all. People are really conservative in Chennai – particularly in Triplicane and Mylapore. Also, we need to be aware of what our neighbours and vegetable vala and insthri kari talk about us when we wear a tee and jeans. Totally nightmare!
    I have although seen a bit of a paradigm shift in chennai’s behaviour in the recent past! In the sense, I’am seeing a lot more girls wearing jeans and tee, skirts, tights, 3/4th than it used to be 4-5 years ago…And when I went to drop my neice in vidhya mandhir school a few times, I noticed all the young mums come in Jeans, skirts and other modern clothes, which never used to be the scenario! So, I do believe people are changing a bit in Chennai too 😦 (Chennaiya vittu kodukka mudiyala )


  10. I guess that’s one thing Bangalore is good at. Very few men stare. Only the good-for-nothing, jobless, i-have-nothing-to-do-so-I-shall-stare types do it. Or maybe it is my mentality. I don’t quite notice men staring, nor do I care.

    If looking at my relatively small structure and my seemingly petite face makes them think I’m vulnerable and can be taken advantage of, the ‘thinker’ is making a beeeeg mistake 😀 I’m confident of that, so I guess I don’t really notice/care.

    And if people do stare too much, i give them a dirty look. It works here. I suppose in a more conservative society like that of Chennai, giving back a dirty look might ‘provoke’ them into ‘wanting to take revenge by molesting’ you!!

    I remember once, when I was in Chennai, I was going by the metro train (or whatever you call it) from adayar to nungambakkam i think…I was in a jeans and T-shirt. And this elderly woman gave me some free gyan. I listened to her, for a full 15 minutes (!!) and then politely told her to go take a hike. That was when another auntiji decided to step in and give the moral highground. I actually stood up and told her to “shut up and mind her own business. i will wear what i want, when i want, where i want.” This was in 2005. Hehe…now when I look back, I guess I’m lucky I’m alive 😀 Thankfully, there were no men in the compartment who I may have ‘provoked”.



  11. Ohhh. Never imagined Chennai to be so conservative land, I have been to Chennai in the year 2006 and was roaming around in jeans and capris but didn’t notice anyone staring rudely at me,maybe there must be ample difference in being tourist and locality.I understand it must be difficult for teenage daughters to bare all that..


  12. Oye, first, when did you get back to blogging?!! hmpf!

    Coming to the post, you are 200% right! Forget abt oglers, unknown junta.. what abt our own people? There are many about us who make us feel like its a sacrilege!..


  13. Came over from Priya’s.
    I am a true blue Chennaiaite, and have never faced this problem. I never wear a duppatta. I wear trousers, salwars, skirts and saree. I have never felt an uncomfortable glance in the past 15 years. Yes, before that, yes.
    Maybe I am just getting old.
    Thank God, u have not undergone such stares !!! Lucky you, whatever the reason !!! 🙂


  14. Initially when girls used to wear a stole with T shirts/kurti with jeans I used to think it looks so muddled and ugly.. Atleast in Blore its ok to carry a thick stole to protect against the cold. But after moving to chennai, it has become a norm – but poepl anyways stare.. they stare irrespective of whatever you wear and the worst part is anyone and everywhere you get those.. even at office:(..
    Had written about Chennai and the dressing style .. Do hop in when you have time.


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