Please don’t think my previous posts on Bangladeshi women’s fashion were meant in any way to be derogatory or critical. Far from it.
There is no doubting there are grave dangers for women working with fires that can easily catch the type of long material generally worn in Bangladesh. But this has as much to do with cooking fires which are ankle heightas anything and not a suggestion that there is anything wrong with the shalwar kameeze or sari itself.
Actually, I really like the styles and approve of them because they are beautiful whilst at the same time not being immodest. I mentioned before that the Victorian gentleman possibly got more of a thrill seeing his fiancée’s ankle than we in the West get now seeing women wearing comparatively very little.
Whilst I am not about to go down the suicidal route of criticising Western women’s fashion, there is no doubt that, since the 60s, young women have been wearing less and less and, intended or not, this has an effect on how men perceive them. When our daughters are picking out bras from the supermarkets aged 6 or 7, my feeling is that the West has gone too far in being open about sexuality. Such behaviour surely cannot be good.
But this is not a problem in Bangladesh. At special occasions you see young girls dressed in saris and shalwars looking utterly beautiful whilst, always, being appropriately dressed. As a father, I like this and approve.
This does not mean, however, that there is no issue at all. The West is ever increasingly encroaching on the culture here. Looking at the billboards in Dhaka, fashion advertisements in the shops or the daily newspapers and you would think that Bangladeshi women were mostly white. Just as many white women in the West desperately want dark skin and buy fake tans of-the-shelf, so women here often desire lighter coloured skin. This lack of appreciation of our own natural skin colours fills me with despair.
I used to bring in the daily newspaper to school. If the fashion magazine was with it the boys would get quite excited and embarrassed at the same time. It was as if I was bringing porn into the classroom! I was even told that it was not a good idea to show these magazines as they “were not approved of by many”. These were ordinary fashion magazines that would not raise an eyebrow in the West!
But with women baring shoulders, upper arms or just not having an orna on, this was considered very rude. But a few short years later, I find myself pretty much agreeing. I can’t help but think that we would all benefit from going back to thinking that seeing less is actually more. But then the days of me seeing women as desirous objects are pretty much behind me (except one). Instead, my first reaction with any woman these days is ‘would I let my daughter wear that?’!
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