Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dressing down our Natural Order

Ever wondered why we are dressed the way we are? I do, at least once every summer, in heated despair and sweating disgust. I first wonder why we are dressed the way we are… and later why we are dressed at all. I then go on to fume with disappointment at our inept cultural evolution.

Let me explain. What if we weren’t dressed at all? For one, pin ups would have no more scope. But on a serious note, humans cannot survive without the external aids called clothes. Biologically we are not designed to withstand most climatic conditions in the world with just our skin. 

Expanding populations demanded more space. Evolving brains taught us to span the entire world to make our haven and home, armed with clothing to save our skin in those unnatural habitats. So with brains like ours we never bothered to toughen our skin…we only developed second skins. We did not allow Nature to take its natural and extremely gradual course; we wanted instant results.

Over the course of our species’ long journey, clothes and clothing had become not just a part of our biological evolution but of our cultural evolution as well. Basic tenements of food and security met, human beings had time on hand –it was time to unleash their creative cells.

A brute need to portray oneself not only as different but also a cut above the others led to variety in clothing and haute couture. This was still within the Natural order…because every species evolves its appearance to be attractive to the opposite sex…we enhanced our sex appeal with our clothes.

Clothing had become an obsession to even our ancestors of millennia. Each of our ancient civilizations could boast of a heightened creative achievement in their clothing culture. Each of our clans had their own signature weave, crafted design, and unique wear. And in all this, without exception, local climate and locally available natural resources defined clothing. Only thus far can I applaud the human genius. 

Evolution is a slow and gradual process, it doesn’t happen suddenly. An accelerated global reach achieved in the last few centuries however did not give the human mind enough time to evolve and adapt itself to suit the Natural order. 

The sudden exposure to and merger of distant cultures muddled local senses of convenience; made people emulate borrowed senses of style and concepts of civilized dressing. We had so many things to catch up with, we had no time to sit back, think and touch base. Clothes and practicality lost sync.

Why else I fail to understand, do we have us dressed in suits and ties for office in our amazingly sizzling Indian summers? Furthermore scratch-head-worthy is that Indian girls would piously brave the heat in a cover all suffocate all non-ventilating attire than slip into more comfortable attire.

To comprehend this amazement, I would once again like to answer my first question of this write up: “Why clothes?” Forgetting all what I have written so far, if I were to answer it, this time I would say ‘Shame and Decorum.’

So amidst the attempt to save our skin and make ourselves more appealing, I wonder where from and when did the alien concepts of shame and decorum come in? From when did clothes take on the additional role of a moral watchdog; making secure and instilling a feeling of safety to the wearers Mind? When did societies decide what acceptable attire was, and discard what was inappropriate clothing – based not on climatic conditions but on social perceptions?

Clothes today present physical and moral paradoxes: they at the same time are attempting to glamorize and deglamorize us; they are enhancing as well as toning downing our sexuality; they are trying to protect us from the wild elements of Nature but in more cases are failing unwillingly. 

Somehow, in a confused, muddled, borrowed state of mind we have lost the sense of ‘Why Clothes?’
You are free to tear down my blog or your clothes.

5 comments:

  1. Reading this post has made me wonder abt smthg tht I have never done ... 'Why Clothes?'

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  2. Nice post Anu....'Why Clothes?'...I ask this question every single morning standing in front of my closet trying to decide what to wear and why to wear!

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  3. Do away with them... I think that shld be the new revolution... I hate them, yet wear them... not for glamor, not for toning my sexuality not to protect me from climate... but just so that other beings around me survive and would not have to die of horror... i wear clothes to save lives....

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  4. Hmm...thought provoking! But,didnt cavemen also cover themselves with something? Animal skin /hide is still a fab!
    Why Clothes? If not society would not look the same i guess...you have successfully Messed My Brain.

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  5. @Mahathi,@Hariharan, we can only question, but this is one norm that i guess we can never do away with...at least out of love for shopping we will accumulate!!

    @Crazy head, you have triggered another thought in me...we are the only species suffering form obesity, so we require clothes to camouflage ourselves in another way too!!hmmm!!!!!

    @Deepta, am glad to have messed up your brain too, though my original intent in starting this blog site was not this. i just wanted my friends to know my messed up side as well. I miss talking to you all, so this is one way of reaching out to you and striking a conversation.

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Let me know what you think as well.