Over the years, your support has made Women’s Web the leading resource for women in India. Now, it is our turn to ask, how can we make this even more useful for you? Please take our short 5 minute questionnaire – your feedback is important to us!

Why Does A Married Woman HAVE To ‘Look Married’?

A married woman has to wear a sari, sindoor, mangalsutra, bangles, anklets, and so much more. What do these ornaments have to do with my love, respect, and commitment to my husband?

They: Are you married?
Me: Yes
They: But You don’t look like it
Me: (in my Mind) Why should I?

Why is being married not enough for a woman, and she needs to look married too? I am tired of such comments in the nearly four years of being married.

I believe that anything that is forced is not right. I must have a choice. I am a living human, not a puppet. And I am not stopping anyone by not following any tradition. You are free to do whatever you like to do. But do not force others. It’s depressing.

I really do not understand, Why is a married woman supposed to look different? Her dressing style should shout out loud about her relationship status. Why there are no such restrictions for men? Why?

Do these symbols ensure a happy marriage?

A married woman has to wear a sari, sindoor, mangalsutra, bangles, anklets, and so much more. What do these ornaments have to do with my love, respect, and commitment to my husband? I have seen ladies adorning themselves with these jewels so proudly while their married life sucks.

During my wedding, I was forced to wear a red lehenga, even though I have always wanted to wear something different. Every single bride I have seen since my childhood has worn red or some shade of red.

The lehenga I wore was heavier than my own body, I could barely move. The necklace was scratching my neck, the heavy earrings were tearing my earlobes… basically it was legit physical torture.

Why? why can’t I have a choice to wear whatever I like, or at least something I am comfortable in? It’s my wedding, not a community project.

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

Indian Bride

It’s really funny. In India, Looking married is more important than being happily married.

Women should not follow the norms blindly. Ask questions if it doesn’t feel right. bother to know why such norms exist?

‘It’s our culture!’

Married women often face strict wardrobe restrictions from family and society. Only because they’re married now, their choices are dead… how can married women dress as per their wish? After all, She has to represent the family. Whereas no such restrictions exist for these women’s husbands.
And if you question the cultural norms then comes the most irritating answer which is “Aisa Hi Hota Hai”. (that’s how it is).

People who lecture about the culture and tradition of India and how great we were and what we should do, must know that women enjoyed equal status with men in all aspects of life in the early Vedic period. They had the right to make their own choices. Women married at a mature age and were free to select their own husbands in a practice called Swayamvar or Gandharva marriage. That was the “culture of India”. Not like now when women do not have the right to decide even the clothes for themselves, forget about other rights?

Also, in the last few decades, almost every aspect of our culture has gone through evolutionary changes, so change is ok, and we can question this insistence on “culture”.

Oh god, I’m so tired of all this judgement!

I am always questioned about the lack of sindoor on my parting-line or bindi on my forehead, the absence of a mangalsutra around my neck and anklets on my feet, by friends and family.

These questions range from polite to harsh.

Don’t I not want to look married? Am I doing this to attract other men? Do I not love my husband enough? None of that is, true. It just shows the mindset of people, and how desperately society wants women to behave in a certain way. All I am doing is being myself, and I am not comfortable in those adornments.

A newly married woman is like mobile jewellery and clothes exhibition for the husband’s family. I am forced to dress in a certain way because, my God, what will people think of us? Your husband has nothing? And what about our culture, tradition, and beliefs?

Listen, I have never been a fan of complicated clothing. So, expecting that I would magically renovate myself after marriage is a bizarre idea. I don’t care. And I am not going to pass this legacy to the next generation.

My body is my sole authority. It’s my right. How I dress has nothing to do with my marital status, and I just want to be comfortable. Why should I have to put a dot on my forehead or wear a beaded necklace to satisfy the world?

All I want to say is everyone must have the choice to dress as they want despite their marital status. Anything that is forced is suppressing and depressing, whereas choices are fulfilling and empowering.

For now, signing off until the next post.

Published here first.

Image source: a still from the film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam


About the Author

Chetna Shukla

Blogger, Content Writer

4 Posts | 19,610 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

Growth Beyond Career Break

All Categories