12 July 2011

Oxford & Cambridge Essay Writing Competition's winning essays- 1st runner up

Sharannya a/p Suresh (SMK Puteri Seremban)

If you live in the city, chances are high that you see thousands of people everyday in passing. Men and women from all sorts of backgrounds, behaviour and not to mention dressing habits. Some are so inconspicuous that you forget about them a second after you glimpse them, but a rare number stay in our minds for quite a time. The biggest factor as arguably their looks and a big part of them are clothes. In big cities, women tend to be more open and are up-front about their overall lives. They dress outrageously sometimes, and might behave even more so. So, the question is, should the law require women to dress modestly, especially in public?

Some parties campaign this concept ferociously, while others protest at this blatant opposition of women’s rights. Even in Malaysia, a few years back, women in states life Kelantan were not allowed to wear ‘tight’ clothes like jeans! In Abu Dhabi, you get weird looks if you walk down the street in sleeveless blouses. But that is just their culture. Asian countries are still famous for their mild-mannered behaviour, although those who do practice it are becoming less everyday. Countries in the west are more accepting of crazily-dressed women. In fact, it might even become a fashion trend! But they do have to draw the line at full nudity. Meanwhile, here, you might get the ‘evil eye’ if you prance down streets in revealing clothes.

Like all other matters, this issue has two sides, too. Modestly dressed women tend to be shielded from catcalls and wolf-whistles most of the time. They will still get this sexist treatment, but they get it in marginally diluted doses compared to women who are dressed sexily. That is a pure fact. Sometimes, modest dressing can save you from bad situations too. Convicted rapists admit that they only committed the crime because they couldn’t control themselves after seeing sexy women. It may see, a lame excuse for their wrong doing, but we cannot deny that women don’t exactly dress conservatively are just asking for trouble, especially if they happen to be in ‘strategic’ places like, say, dark streets.

Modest dressing doesn’t always mean frumpy, or ‘badly dressed’. Most of the young women nowadays dress according to ever-changing fashion trends. The trick is always to find a look that is suitable for you. Like Oscar Wilde once said ‘Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerant that we have to keep changing it. Latest trends on the runway don’t always look at home on the streets. Evergreen looks always make a good impression, even with people we have just met. You will look modern, elegant and still have leftover space for style. Self-help books and even newspaper articles, say that people who are dressed modestly, especially women, are more likely to be except maybe the fashion and designing industries. If you want to work there, wear ‘Loud’ coloured clothes all you want!

Of course, activists who campaign for women’s rights are vehemently against any ideas of this sort. This is, the twenty-first century, after all. Women shouldn’t have to dress in a certain way just to escape the unwanted attentions of caveman-like louts. It’s a free country, or a free-world, in this case. Outlawing outrageous clothes are actually curbing the rights of women to dress how they want, whenever they want. And after all, men with nasty behaviours will go after any girl or woman, safe is to have street-smarts, and maybe even a pepper spray handy. If laws are implemented to force women to dress conservatively (without their choice, too), mankind will be taking a giant step backward.

There is no denying the fact that it is the norm in Asian Countries, especially, to be obedient and just walk in our ancestors footsteps. The old generation find it very hard to accept their grandchildren’s newfound ‘style’. Clothes that are too tight are considered a taboo. Forget midriff-baring shirts. Parents are more understanding, but they, too have limits. Teenage girls, who sometimes follow fashion trends to fit in with their friends, end up getting frustrated. However, they will eventually understand their families’ mindsets as they grow up and mature. The key is compromise. Everyone has to give and take in the end for all parties to be satisfied. Even members of the unbending old generation might budge just a little. Life is just not long enough for us get worked up about simple things, really.

Clearly, controversial headlines in the newspapers might lead us to think that all females should be required to dress modestly for their own sakes. But we must ask ourselves, is this what ALL the women want, or need? Does a simple law protect and shield a certain thing from harm? Like they say, rules are made to be broken. Besides, even corporate industries are becoming more relaxed about be maintained to keep up a respectable front. But clothes and dressing-habits are subjective. Women should be sensitive and smart enough to know what to wear at times, based on the nature of the occasions. You can’t wear dresses suitable for nightclubs to a temple the next day!. In the end, it is up to the millions of women by whim! Women should have their own fates and futures in their own hands. To be or not to be (modestly dressed!) ?

No comments:

Post a Comment