Getting it right!

The poor professors have never had it so bad. There is nothing that they can do that does not run foul of the media. Especially if it has to do with dresses. Let them but whisper the words ‘dress code’, and the entire media brigade descends on them. Every Tomlinson, Dickinson and harried socialite wannabe is called in to pour out their outrage at these otherwise respected guys. <br/><br/>And it does not help that they look such fuddy duddys on TV. In this uneven contest they come out looking like dinosaurs, stuck in another age and knowing nothing about liberalism, freedom or fashion. No one could even remotely imagine letting their ilk set the agenda for what to dress. <br/><br/>But make no mistake about it, freedom has nothing to do with the issue. We do follow trends. And the anxiety to get it right could be terrible. In a college, or in any other non-fashionable place, it does not really matters. Who gives a care if someone walks in wearing a white lungi, or a faded kurta into a classroom. But say you are in an upmarket restaurant, and the first people to give you a stare – if you go out dressed wrong – would be the waiters, probably following you all around (their gaze, i.e!). It could be even worse in a nightclub – you could be denied entry. <br/><br/>So it is just as necessary to go out not dressed in suits and ties to night clubs, as it is necessary to go out in them in a business conference. <br/><br/>Me, I am a fashion dinosaur. I make my capris by cutting off the bottom of my pyjamas, and I have yet to figure out the difference between my old jeans, which were torn when I fell off a moving bus, and the torn stuff that has been in rage. <br/><br/>So, you will understand my bewilderment at all this fashion fundamentalism. The bottomline though is that trends are set increasingly by the fashion designers, models, socialites and the P3P, and are religiously followed. <br/><br/>Why is this so? <br/><br/>One reason is that with the advent of the television age, suddenly people who were anybody (which means they have to appear of TV), could not afford not to be well groomed anymore. This thing has combined in recent days with our fanaticism to have experts for everything – from baby food to military security – the guy (or the gal) doing the advising must have unimpeachable credentials that s/he can actually do that. <br/><br/>So these citizens of the fashion world serve as ‘experts’ for an important concern, look. And look muh dahlings is important. Witness how the packaging industry has grown. Witness also the concept that things need to be ‘packaged’ properly, has grown. Everything today is packaged. There is the physical package and the metaphorical package. There is the packaged bottle of water, and there is the packaged tour. There is also packaged spirituality and others things that one never imagined deserved a package. <br/><br/>So how could humans not be packaged? The look dahlings, is the package. It puts the proper spin on the person. Puts him in perspective, gives him a context, and says something about him. Those who can afford it, do not dare to leave such an important thing to there own bumblings. They call in the experts. <br/><br/>This is as it were, looking at the issue from the inside. From the point of view of people who with a passion follow the fashion, (forgive the doggerel). <br/><br/>There is another way to look at it. From the point of view of the industry that thrives on it. This circle includes not just the designers and the models, but also the big retail chains (Westside and Shoppers Stop are an example) and branded clothing corporations. One may go on to say that it also includes all those who profit from the beauty industry: cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, (in twenty thousand colour for twenty thousand types of hair and I am not exaggerating dahlings) enhancements, spas (chocolate, wine milk, stones, are the new substitutes for plain old bath water), and then dance classes, etiquette, self development etc, etc. <br/><br/>Because Look is not only about clothing, but a lot other things besides. <br/><br/>This entire industry has a stake in keeping people perpetually anxious about their looks. No, I am not suggesting a grand conspiracy against the women, (and lately the men) of this earth but simply that a huge swathe of the corporate world thrives on our look-anxiety and therefore, quite naturally, do everything to subtly reinforce it. This happens through various means –well funded researches on the virtues of being slim, expert opinions, etc – but mainly through ads. <br/><br/>Have you noticed how ‘the 21st century woman’ or the ‘liberated woman’ or the ‘empowered woman’ in the ads is always someone who has the perfectly shaped body and is draped in designer wear? <br/><br/>If you don’t look like that, walk like that and talk like that – it is subtly implied – then you do not qualify for the above titles. That’s social conditioning for you. <br/><br/>There is nothing wrong in being look conscious. It is a sign of civilisation to bother about how you look. One must, without doubt, try to look one’s best but that is where it should halt. One should not start trying to look like someone else, however gorgeous. <br/><br/>We all are unique. Different, without the help of any designer. What could be better than that? <br/> <br/>

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