Every morning when I wake up, I remove the blanket covering me. I was always told by my mother that in the morning, we are dirty. Therefore, it is important to take a bath in the morning, not only because one stinks, but also because the body, especially your sexual organs, in my case, my vagina, secretes waste during the night and it is necessary to clean it up.
As a child I believed her, but still chose to not take a bath for days at a stretch. This was because, one, I loved to spend my bathing time sleeping in the bathroom, using my clothes as a pillow, and second, because I had no intentions of letting the cold water drops jerk me out of my peaceful state of mind.
Ignorance was Bliss
Now however, since I am an adult and aware of the importance of cleanliness, I move towards the bathroom to clean my body. I strip, still sleepy, barely aware of the number of layers I am wearing. I get into the shower, but not before I switch on some music, I twist the knob and allow myself to get wet. I rub my body to make sure every part of it is clean. I use soap, the lavender fragrance one, and allow myself the pleasure of singing and thinking and even dancing.
Have you ever noticed that in the bathroom you feel truly free? Liberated? I do. There is no one looking, judging or wondering what you are doing. I do what I feel. I talk to myself and say what I want. I day-dream and I also remember the past and joke. I humour myself. When the water hits my head and rushes down my body, I feel at peace.
In that moment, I am me.
But when I dry myself, that’s when I’m slapped by the reality. When I leave the tub, I am naked in front of the mirror; I do not like what I see. I am not sure if my dislike is because I wish I was healthier or because the media representation of a beautiful woman, that is, thin, curvy, straight or curly hair, etc is so drilled in me, that I realise I am not the ideal beautiful woman. I am not also sure if my wish to be healthy is because of medical reasons or superficial reasons.
In the world of 36-24-36, I am 44-42-45.
What I see in the mirror is sagging boobs, because they are too big, a stomach with bulging tires and stretch marks and broad and big hips with cellulite deposits so big that I can see them.
Time to hide. Bring out the clothes.
I first wear my underwear, a high waist panties that would cover and pull in the bulge of my stomach as well as cover the tires hanging from my back. I then wear my bra which shackles my breasts in one position. My breasts, too big, try to escape and I helplessly adjust them and put them in their place.
Now, when I see myself, I see a fat stomach and big breasts being suppressed by fabrics.
The view may seem normal to many but is a nudist’s nightmare. Carrying on I cover my legs with a pair of jeans, the loose kinds so that the shape of my legs is not very visible and I wear a loose top or kurta that would hide my stomach and arms.
I then examine myself in the mirror and if I notice anything that should not be, for example my cleavage showing, my nipples standing, the bulge of my stomach visible, etc. I hide it. I take a stole and drape it in a way so that my body and its actual shape are completely hidden. I hide myself. I mask my true self that I was so comfortable with, in the shower, with layers and layers of clothing. Covering so that nobody can see the real me and so that I am hidden from the world.
I feel the need to hide myself because I live with my parents, and they are not like me, I cannot disrespect their opinions or the societal norms they follow. So I dress the way they expect me to, even if the idea suffocates me.
Once while watching the Sherlock series, I saw an episode where Sherlock Holmes was unable to understand anything about a female because she was naked and there was nothing on her body that could help him deduce anything conclusive about her. When I saw the episode the first time, I just saw it, I did not understand its essence. Years later while I was doing nothing, the meaning dawned on me.
Clothes are like masks. It is not who we are but who we wish we could be.
Sadly, since all one wants is not to be their true self, they neither know who they are nor who they are projecting to be. This ignorance leads to one being confused about their identity; it leads to existential crisis and a lot more. The worst, since people can not figure themselves out, they believe they have the licence to judge others. Not just that, they use every little detail to make an effort to unravel the other.
These judgements are so cruel that they invade a person’s most innermost privacy. For example, I am forced by the society to dress in a way that, they claim, is appropriate. So I have to wear undergarments; underwear and a bra
Regardless of the fact that underwears are sanitary and help protect one’s vagina from germs , there is more to it. Not just more, but a multi-million dollar industry .
Firstly, the kinds of underwear — If I wear a thong instead of panties, it is the same for me medically. But if, a friend of mine was to see a thong in my cupboard, let’s say a lace thong with diamonds on it, then I am sure to get a cheeky grin that would be followed by a cheesy remark about how kinky or dirty I am to have such a piece of clothing.
My panties that I wear only for medical purposes is used to judge my sexuality, my preference etc.
Secondly, not only the kind but also the colour — A famous 90’s movie, 10 Things I Hate About You has a dialogue and I quote, “You don’t buy black lingerie unless you want someone to see it!” So when I go to buy lingerie, I buy what I like, I pick my favourite colour, and if I like red or black more than orange, people will use it as a psychological tool to understand my nature and personality.
Thirdly, I am respectable only if I wear underwear. Both free balling as well as free buffing are huge taboos in our society. The act is considered socially unacceptable because to many, the practice seems immodest. Societal views should be respected only as long as they do not strip an individual of his or her personal freedom.
If tomorrow I choose to be done with the underwear industry and ‘go commando’ that too is my choice and does not imply anything but that I am sick and tired of elastic marking my skin.
The rational explanation why I should wear a bra, according to the society, is that so the shape of my boobs does not get spoiled and the weight of the boobs does not give me a back ache. Also seamless bras and padded bras help hide the nipples from being visible.
First: If nature runs its course in such a way that the shape changes, why are we trying to change nature?
Second: Who decided the correct shape of my boobs?
Third: If I am more comfortable not wearing a bra and if I don’t have back aches why is the society judging me for not wearing a bra?
Fourth: Nature gave nipples to both man and woman; nipples are erogenous organs for both man and woman; why can a man move around topless while a woman can’t? To the extent that I have to purchase bras that are heavier and hurt so that nobody, even by mistake sees the seam of my nipples.
Fifth: If I am buying a bra for the reasons above, I should buy one that would satisfy all the reasons that sadly does not cost less that 1500 rupees.
It is literally like being forced to buy a jail cell for your boobs. Shit expensive and super uncomfortable.
And this is not it, I am again judged on the colour and type of bra and I’m not respectable if I don’t wear one. If my boobs sway while I exercise I need a bra that would hold them tight together. If I want to wear a shirt, the bra has to hold my boobs apart so there isn’t much cleavage. Also the amount of cleavage is inversely proportional to my respectability or how open I would be with the idea to sleep with my boss or have a one night stand.
The concept of clothing when it started was to protect one from the heat and cold and wind and other natural forces. When did the idea of physical protection evolve into the idea of emotional and mental protection? Why have we started hiding ourselves and from who?
Since birth we have been clothed. Growing up, we have been taught to cover our body and the idea has been drilled in our head so deep that it is hard to deflect from the idea. One needs to give up all forms of conservatism to understand this but people won’t or they can’t. Because if they give up on the most obvious ideas they follow, they won’t have any choice but to rethink all that they know and the idea of such a task is scary.
My suggestion to those people is:
“To know who you really are, is totally worth it.”