7 reasons why I don’t like Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day and women all over are buzzing with delight. But much as I appreciate women and what they have accomplished, I don’t like  Women’s Day. Here’s why:

  • There will be some cursory media coverage of how women have made great strides in almost every field and how they are strong and powerful. A starlet will be quoted on how great her mom made her who she is. Yeah, right!
  • Women may be gifted and greeted on this—but they will continue to be suppressed and oppressed by their own families. Want to study abroad? We’re saving up for your wedding/ brother’s education. Hungry?– Your father and brother must eat first. Want to play sports? –Girls don’t do that. Oh, so-and-so had a baby girl? How sad!
  • And don’t even get me started on the crimes against women. Women will continue to be persecuted, raped, groped, eve-teased and violated in the worst ways possible. According to a just-released report, nearly one in four Indian men has committed sexual violence at some point in their lives. What kind of society do we live in?
  • Women (and men) are bombarded with marketing messages: Do a chocolate massage, get 15% off; buy 2 amazingly-atrocious shirts, get 1 free… Stuff like that. Yeah, we love shopping, and we love clothes, makeup, accessories, spa treatments. But we’re not just about spending money.
  • So we’re also about multi-tasking and multiple roles. As a friend on Facebook just posted: “So many roles—daughter, wife, friend, sister, aunt, grandma!” True… but even men are sons, husbands, friends, brothers, uncles and grandpas. 🙂
  • Let’s face it—not all women are the epitome of grace, perfection, elegance, charm and dignity. A hop into the Virar fast on a weekday evening will shatter any such myth. If women have been through all sorts of struggle, so have men. (I’m all for equality—not necessarily one better than the other).
  • About the issues of economic and social equality, we’re still far away from such a day. It’s just another utopian idea.

The day we don’t need to acknowledge or “celebrate” women—that will be the real International Women’s Day.

Anyways, Happy Women’s Day to all Speaking Chic readers.

Obama’s handkerchief and my blue nailpolish

When US President Barack Obama visits India next month, he will skip a visit to Amritsar’s Golden Temple, “on the thorny question of how Mr Obama would cover his head, as Sikh tradition requires, while visiting the temple”. Mr Obama cannot cover his head with a handkerchief.

Who would have thought that a piece of cloth could be the cause of a (potential) furore? Rather like the blue nail polish I applied the other day. I did expect some extreme reactions, some even insulting, but none like this one: “Eeeeks, that’s the ugliest nail colour ever!”

A ‘kerchief and a nail paint—the similarity begins here. That blue nailpolish was part of my identity, it conveyed a message about me: not just about what colours I liked, but also about what I wanted to be: fun, daring, cool, young(er)…

With every piece of clothing, with every accessory, with every subtle aspect of our appearance, we reveal our identity, a bit of who we are. A sari, a mini skirt, pink hair, a mangalsutra, an amulet, a cross, a headscarf. We usually wear our identities on our sleeve, and we hesitate to wear some of them.

I wouldn’t want to be caught dead wearing a kurta in a nightclub, or jeans to a traditional wedding. And Mr Obama wouldn’t want to be seen with a cloth on his head. He doesn’t want to be perceived as someone he’s not. It would damage his standing, his reputation, stir yet another controversy about his religious beliefs. He’s human, but not all-powerful; he’s powerful, he’s weak.

So while putting a ‘kerchief on your head should mean just following a harmless tradition (or an institutional rule), to a misinformed and misled public, it would mean something they intensely dislike and mistrust. And so he makes the decision to skip the temple, so no question of following any rule, avoiding any kind of speculation—in a moment of weakness.

What you wear speaks about who you are. Mr Obama covering his head out of respect for the rules of the Golden Temple would convey: “I don’t care what misinformed Americans think about me.”

Are you brave enough to wear and DO what you want? What are you wearing today? I’m getting myself a manicure, and re-applying the blue nail paint.

Shocking Chic: Oil spills into fashion

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For the fashion world, the word shocking is usually reserved for an anorexic model or heavily photoshopped images. But Vogue Italia recently gave shocking a new meaning when it published a fashion photospread inspired by the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Here’s the cover: 


What you see inside are some stark images, some close to being very disturbing. The photos (shot by Steven Meisel) project a poisonous atmosphere, and in one picture, model Kristen McMenamy is seen regurgitating contaminated water. Not for the faint-hearted.


Speaking Chic tracked down a friend in the US who feels passionately about the oil spill and its cover-up. “The images are truly haunting,” she said over email. “But it’s a good thing, because this is going to put the oil spill on a world stage for everyone to see. Some of the pictures make you feel the anger that most of us environment-lovers felt in the aftermath of the spill.”

We also also asked Mumbai-based photography buff Pradnya for her reactions. “Most of the pictures are in low key which well describe the mood. Unfortunately, the repetitive long shots sometimes lose focus. Yet, some of the photos do justice to the seriousness of the issue. The close-up picture of the model is a great capture, with a nice blend of fear and shock. I think some of the pictures hit hard, but all of them capture the essence of the disaster.”


For those who still want to know about the fashion in the shoot, check out the Vogue Italia site or watch this behind-the-scenes video.

Speaking Chic says: The next time someone says “fashion is frivolous”, please show them this photo feature. While these photographs will not reverse the damage caused, they make a poignant statement on the environmental and human impact of the spill. By showing a human in such a toxic setting, the magazine has brought to the fore what several upper-class people (Vogue readers) may have brushed under the carpet. We wonder what Tony Hayward would have to say about this one.

What do you think of Vogue Italia’s BP oil spill-inspired photo shoot? Tell us!

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