This question bothers me just as much as the question: ’Mum, what do we have for dinner today?‘. Before I continue, I have to tell you some things about me because simply one characteristic can change the whole layout of this question. So I am a girl, well woman whatever you wanna have it, 23 years old, unmarried, born in Germany to Tamil parents who immigrated from Sri Lanka in the 80s and 90s respectively. You will need this information to understand the following.
“Suppose you meet Chancellor Angela Merkel today, would you wear this? Will you go out with this clothes? No. But to church you dress up like this, huh? You want to worship the most holy God, the Lord of all lords with this ‘disgraceful’ outfit?” – mum, aunty, uncle… I hear this a lot – even today my mum is super strict when it comes to clothing. One of the few things I sometimes really hate about being born to “culturally-orientated” Tamil parents in post-modern Germany. Because we do not have the choice to choose our parents or our birth place there is not much left what we can do about the ongoing dilemma which becomes more severe as we get older. We learn from school how other children dress up, we come in touch with other ‘white’ Christians but most importantly with age we mature and start to question what is being preached or dictated to us by family, society and the world. So, here comes the inevitable question: How much skin, is too much skin then?
I personally do not think, there is a straightforward answer to this question which can be applied universally to each single situation in similiar outset. One has to decide for him- or herself what she thinks is appropriate for that given occasion. This difficult question is and will be as controversial as the debate about whether climate change is for real or not as long as human beings will be living on this planet. It is determined by some factors such as age, type of event, purpose of the function, type of guest/ audience, location, time and other variables.
I do want to make clear and point out, that as children we have to respect our parents and most of the time what they say is good for us or with well-meant intention. However, there are some exceptions especially when it comes to dressing up after a certain age when you feel mature enough to differentiate between what is “culturally derived intention” or what is “not culturally-influenced intention”. Sometimes both strays of intention collide and its hard to decide what is right or wrong in that particular moment – except for traditionally clothing, e.g. sarees. They tend to be more liberal when it comes to their familiar way of dressing up but even on this topic we have all sorts of critics. Double-standard, guys. 😉 Surprisingly, (I feel that) Tamil parents in Canada, England and some parts of India are more open-minded than in other parts of Europe. #lol. Nevertheless, most of the time I find that in regard to clothing our parents disapprove because of “culturally-orientated intention”. So this means, we have to critically decide for ourselves what is appropriate having in mind where we are going and who will be there.
There is no defined set of standards for women how to dress regardless of color, ethnicity or faith. I think there is no yes, you can wear that or no, you cannot wear that. I would suggest parents to raise their concern about something in a reasonable manner and then let their grown-up children decide for themselves what to do. In our culture, parents are fixed too much on what others say about you but they do not notice how this puts a strain in the relationship to their children and how this affects them negatively. They have to make peace with themselves and accept, that the way they were raised is not present time anymore. It is past time. We have 40 or 50 years of development, change and advancement since they were born. Sri Lanka today is not what it was tw decades ago when they left their country . People there have also moved on and adopted their way of living according to recent industrial progress.
So, this brings us back to the question what is then appropriate for today’s time? I pinned myself some basic rules:
- when I am around other Tamil people, especially when men are present I tend to were ‘more’ modest clothes,
- when I go out with friends or when I mingle with ‘white’ people, I feel more comfortable now to wear ‘less’ modest clothes,
- and when someone is mean enough to stalk me on social media and share my pictures (because their own life is too boring), I do not care anymore.
This has simple reasons: I figured out that Tamil people and most men from the east in general – even if they are ‘Christian’ (who said Christians do not have feelings?!) – often give you a second look which makes me feel uncomfortable. They are not used to see girls or women in tight leggings or sleeveless tops. So they like to look again (You cannot change the world – can you?!). For me, I can say I do not need this extra attention and because of that I have decided to cover myself a bit more when I am around people from different culturally upbringing and understanding and let loose when I know I will not be subject of wrong temptation.
Conclusion: Everyone has to decide for themselves what they think is too much skin. There is no defined set of standards of right or wrong dressing but sometimes listening to our parents will not harm us but on the other hand it does not imply that everything they say is correct.
I am excited to hear your opinion on this highly anticipated topic. Feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks. 🙂 I look forward to hear from you, guys.