When Priyanka Chopra Was Dissed For Wearing A Blouse Less Saree…As Generations Of Indian Women Have Done

Posted: June 8, 2019

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Priyanka Chopra is slammed for wearing a saree without a blouse And ‘disrespecting Indian Culture.” But is Indian Culture a monolithic, frail entity?

International star Priyanka Chopra has achieved a lot in her life. She is that one icon who has inspired many. Recently however, she did a shoot with Instyle magazine where she wore a blouse less saree and trolls got a new reason to exist.

The star was bashed with comments that judged and slut-shamed her. She was called “shameless”, “disrespecting” and my favourite, a “slut”, because slut-shaming is our favourite hobby, amirite?

Many users commented that the actress has “disrespected the traditional attire and the Indian culture” and “is showing her skin for fame”. But is Indian culture that stringent or fixed to one ideology.

https://twitter.com/nagaraju_kr/status/1136316408575381506

Indian culture is flexible

The most important thing to note here is that the saree with a blouse has never been a standard part of Indian culture. Yes, digest that! In fact, the saree is just one of the many attires that represents Indian culture. India is a country of 29 states with approximately every state having its own culture and language. Also, not everyone from Kashmir to Kanyakumari wears sarees.

There are many communities in the country that traditionally wore or continue to wear what society terms “slutty clothes” as part of their culture. Skirts without blouses, bottoms without shirts are pretty common and are representations of a type of Indian Culture too.

Coming back to sarees, in ancient India, stitched clothes like blouses were never a part of a woman’s wardrobe. In Bengal, prior to the Victorian era, most women did not wear blouses under their saris – they wore it bare-breasted or sometimes with an unstitched piece of cloth tied over the breasts. In some parts of India, the covering of breasts had more to do with one’s caste than notions of propriety. It was the rise of the Mughals in the country, that in fact, started the tradition of wearing a dupatta.

According to a report by the BBC, it was Jnanadanandini Debi, the wife of Satyendranath Tagore, who popularised blouses and the modern style of the saree in India. This was done because reportedly she was refused entry to clubs under the British Raj for wearing the sari fabric over her bare breasts.

So the saree with a blouse is actually the modern style saree, not the Great And Traditional Indian Saree. The blouse that has been actually Britain’s longest export to India has now been owned by the ‘guardians of Indian culture” as an Indian tradition. The ancient Indian women probably never considered breasts as titillating and was never asked to cover them up.

It’s not new for women to get moral policed for their clothes from time to time by so-called nationalists who think her compliance with an imaginary tradition defines her nationality. In this sense, the story of the blouse does makes us wonder what Indian Culture really is, and who gets to define it.

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