In the opinion of veteran Bollywood star Jaya Bachchan, pants give women the wrong kind of power – “manpower” instead of “woman power”. But before you set fire to your wardrobe, read on till the end…
The three generations of women discussed “women in different spaces” in a podcast that she recently co-hosted with her granddaughter, Navya Naveli Nanda, and daughter, Shweta Bachchan-Nanda. This topic describes how women “struggled to be themselves”. Jaya asked the two women, ” Why are Indian women wearing more western clothes?”
A lot of women are not just at home anymore, they go out, and they get jobs. It is easier to wear pants and a t-shirt than it is to drape a sari.” Shweta explained.
Speaking to the alleged claim by Jaya that women should wear saris all the time, she pointed out that nowhere had she implied women should always be dressing in saris and that what was being discussed in her speech was a woman claiming power for herself. “Let’s say I am wearing this sari. This is not just me saying, ‘you know what, let’s wear sarees,’ but about a woman feeling right and complete on her own with my dignity and my values intact, and what gives me to somebody else. People have accepted that, over the years, this Western clothing takes away the power of a woman.”
It is interesting to note that the Sholay actor not only assigned gender to pants, but also to power. Why are pants a men’s garment? As Jaya pointed out if women wore dresses in the West before, didn’t men also wear dresses of sorts in the olden days? Fashion is all about evolution. Gender-specific clothing shouldn’t matter to anyone. People should wear whatever makes them feel comfortable and confident.
Regarding gendered power, it is not possible to feel a woman’s power in a dress or a man’s power in pants. The individual who feels powerful makes them feel powerful, not the clothes. They decide what makes them feel powerful, whether it’s pants, a shalwar kameez, a dress, a sari, or a suit.
When Shweta argued that men might have been sent to war during the Industrial Revolution, and women began working in factories, Nanda endorsed Jaya’s statement. As an example, Falguni Nayar, the founder of Nykaa, I have never seen her wear anything other than a sari — she always wears a sari. Even when she rang the bell at the Bombay Stock Exchange on the day her company went public.
Her response focused on her being a “self-made person” who makes her feel comfortable in her skin and whatever she wears“. Perhaps the Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham actress should pay more attention to what she said here and realize that women radiate power, not clothes.
Don’t be afraid of the pants, Jaya. Give them a try, you might be surprised.
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