It’s not a surprise to come across a comment or an opinion that is often made on the character of an individual based on their clothes. It’s been a long going tradition, especially one where pre-defined ‘ethics’ have already pre-conditioned the minds of many that it’s not easy to escape from such an opinion.
When a girl is in a bikini, she is tagged as a prostitute. If a male wears feminine-looking clothes, he is tagged as a transgender or gay. A woman who chooses to wear shirts and pants unlike the traditionally viewed girls’ clothes, they are praised as tomboys. From Clothes defining character, to clothes defining gender, to clothes defining opinion, the chain of link between clothes and humans don’t seem to end.
Often under the hood of this orthodox opinion some people even go on to ‘police’ someone’s cloth choices while being condescending and prejudiced. Clothes have been exploited as a way to define someone’s character, someone’s gender or someone’s life in a nutshell. These pre-conditioned orthodox views have been passed down from generations to generations for so long that even after learning about it, unlearning this becomes tough.
From being commented by India’s well-off leaders about jeans and skirts being arousing to that common gasping stares of people when you walk out with shorts, all of them not only degrade one’s life quality but also restrain them from opportunities that they’d like to explore.
Now, it’s possible that you may argue about how clothes are one of the essentials of human life and it’s inevitable to not link clothes with character? If clothes were not meant for character reflection, then why do places such as offices, schools, etc. have a dress code? Shouldn’t we all should be allowed to wear a bikini at work?
To quench your curiosity let me reveal a little fact to you. Dress-codes actually emerged to enhance team-spirit and comfortable environment and fit for the individuals. It was meant to improve the feeling of ‘belonging’ together among the members. However, this too strayed from it’s path of goal and ended up as being one of the traditionally forced ethics. But the focus of the article is not the history. It’s the present. It is because of this orthodox view that dress-codes which started out as a way to provide comfort actually became a ‘moral police’ baton. Skin-revealing clothes started became tagged as modern and this modern-ness a trolling weapon for many orthodox people.
So, what’s the solution to this cloth-character problem?
Here are some things that you can do!
- Unlearn – This is definitely the most needed solution. To unlearn. Unless we re-teach ourselves the basis of what makes a person a good person, (which btw aren’t clothes) none of this will ever change. Mahatma Gandhi once said, ‘Be the change you want to see.’ And it is indeed true. Start with you. Your values. Your views. Teach yourself how clothes don’t have a gender and neither a character.
- Unresponsive to people holding orthodox views – Instead of trying your best to change some orthodox person’s view, who is unyielding and strongly stupid, the best you can do is ignore them. Ignore their comments and don’t let your blood boil. It’s not easy to unlearn. And what’s more tough is to let go of your wrong convictions if that’s what’s you’ve been conditioned with the whole life.
- Express your views – This may sound conflicting but give it a read. You need to express your views about how cloth-character assumption is wrong and why it is so. This is because unless you will tell them, no one ever will. They won’t know that a view opposite to theirs can exist. So you be the opposite one. But never waste your time by continuously pestering them with your views. You know how the saying goes, ‘A dog’s twisted tail will always remain twisted.’ So, don’t waste your energy on such people.
- Teach the kids – Just like how we and the previous generations have been conditioned with some wrong views, you can start on the right foot by teaching the kids the difference and the right thing about what defines a good human character. And it’s definitely not the clothes.
We’ve heard the ‘Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover’ and ‘Don’t Judge a Song by its Language’. Now, it’s time that we also learn; ‘Don’t Judge a Character by its Clothes’.