the dupatta goes by many names all across India, but it serves one purpose primarily — to cover up clothed boobs in a attempt to appear modest, decent and the quintessential bharathiya naari (Indian woman)
to be completely clear, the dupatta is not worn to cover up boobs that are otherwise naked or shivering from the cold. they are worn over tops/kurtas to cover up the a body part as natural as the arm or leg.
imagine if man had objectified the arm instead of the boob. typically you would cover it up with a long sleeved top. then to completely hide the very existence of the arm, you would cover it up with a loosely draped dupatta/scarf. you would still draw attention, because everyone knows you have an arm under that dupatta and long sleeve. you would be judged, mocked, cat-called and branded forward, modern, brazen, or even sluty if you don’t wear a dupatta over your arm. you would still be judged if you wore a dupatta over your long sleeve — on how sheer the material of your dupatta, if it’s shiny and attracts attention to the to-be-hidden arm or if you are wearing it according to varying standards of appropriateness of each passing man.
imagine if man had objectified the face instead of the boob. typically you would cover it up with… oh wait.
in southern India, the salwar kameez though popular, was actually borrowed from the northern sisters few decades ago. a south Indian girl went from paavadai (skirts and tops) to paavadai davani (half saree orbskirt and blouse with a dupatta draped like a saree) to saree which she wears all her married life. this has like all things evolved over the years.
an unmarried girl transitions to being married and traditional with the addition of a dupatta over her kurtas. just like men go from wearing pants to wearing pants.
disadvantages of wearing dupatta
* makes for unsafe two wheeler travel as the dupatta tends to slide down and have the danger of getting caught in the wheeks
* makes for unsafe four wheeler travel as the dupatta tends to get caught in the car doors.
* makes for unsafe pedestrian travel as the dupatta tends to fly away with the wind getting caught in vehicles or have the danger of sliding over the roadside romeos’ faces, giving them a false bollywood moment
* makes for annoying attire as it continues slides down the shoulders, expecting constant adjustments
* makes for annoying attire even if pinned on both sides as it causes tears on both the kurta and the dupatta itsekf if pulled with the slightest force
advantages of wearing dupatta
* makes the woman subconsciously feel that her breasts are so superbly sexual that despite having strapped them and covered them up in multiple layers. (who needs supers powers and multi tasking abilities)
* makes the man forget the very existence of the boobs!!
i am not a chest thumping feminist. i don’t advocate walking around naked (i’m a realist, if nothing). I understand that woman get ogled, leered and labelled without the dupatta. it’s seen as an “invitation”. but women get ogled, leered and labelled with the dupatta too.
i have travelled in public transportation and been subjected to harrassment irrespective of what i wore.
i am not writing this blog post appealing to men to stop objectifying the boob and treat it as any other appendage. i am not writing this blog post appealing to men to stop and tell them it’s extremely disgusting that you are able to objectify boobs on another women while your own mother has a pair that fed and nourished you to be man that you are today.
i am writing this to mark my stand. irrespective of the party ruling the state/country, irrespective of how corrupt or benevolent, you continue to pay taxes and do your civic duty. or not.
why should i be any different? if i wear a dupatta it’s because i want to, because it looks good with the kurta, not because i am married, not out of respect, and certainly not because men stare.