Summer Roundup: My Favorite 3 Looks with a Hint of a Social Experiment?
Okay I have to admit. I had just wayyyy too much fun working on this post. For starters, it meant getting dressed for each look, which seemed tedious at first, because I wanted the make up to be perfect, the hair to compliment each look, and the locations to be unique each time, but once the effort was done, and the shoot started, I was having a ball. I got to experiment with different poses, and boast my confidence without any shame. To top it all, the interns did a great job with the shoot and I was left feeling super proud of my Super Squad after every shoot! And finally, my favorite was how I was able to make this shoot about something more than my clothes, with the addition of a social experiment that really brought in very pleasantly surprising results.
In Pakistan, one of the biggest nightmares a girl could go through is not only loving but finding the most comfort in not Eastern but Western wear. You want to wear pants and dresses like all the time, but you're not sure if you can go out in those clothes and so have to think twice before you put on your clothes for the day. And then there's the fear of your parents, elders, siblings, or some random person altogether making you feel bad about your clothes or telling you they're unIslamic or how uncultured you are. You just don't want to put up that fight today. But the worst of them all is the street harassment you fear when you step out. Even if it's a short walk to your car parked out on the street, the sleazy stares you're going to get, or the cat calls or weird ass comments that make you cringe and feel like shit every time. And so before you put on the outfit, you reevaluate how much of a dare devil you're feeling that very day.
So for this shoot, I wanted to try how my favorite looks, which naturally were all Western since I find them more comfortable, on the street. I wanted to see if street harassment was still as bad today as it was 5 years ago. And so all the shoots were done in public places. Before anyone comments on how great I look in Eastern wear and I should give it a try, I want you to give yourself a little self check. I am not claiming Eastern Wear is bad, nor am I saying I look bad in it. I know I rock it when I wear it, but I just don't find it as comfortable as I find a pant and a shirt. It's personal preference. The fact that I have to give this justification here is evidence of a bigger problem, the hypocritical standards we set for men and women. You wouldn't question a man wearing jeans and shirt all the time (which most men do). No one questions their values, or patriotism by what they're wearing but the standard shifts for women for some reason only God is knowing I suppose. Anyway, enough talk, let's move to the looks, and also the findings of my little experiment.
The First Look
I call this look the 'Casual Chic'. Because it's something I could imagine myself wearing to a brunch with friends. Click on the arrows to go write to see more pictures of the look. I absolutely love the cut of the top, and the summery colors that reflect my true self, colorful and happy.
Top: Zara Jeans: Wrangler Watch & Bracelet Set: Anne Klein Shoes: BCBG Bag: Charles & Kieth Necklace: Pink Pussy @ Bangkok, Thailand
This was a challenging look for me and I really had to step out of my comfort zone for this one a little, simply because it's sleeveless and I wasn't sure how that would settle with the crowd around me. We chose a local tea shop that's very busy and in the middle of a very hustling bustling market area.
To my surprise and my Super Squad's as well, the look was so well received. I did not get a single sleazy stare from the waiters or the customers there. People looked sure, men and women both, but primarily because they were intrigued with what was going on. I guess because it was a shoot, people also tend to let you off the hook, because they assume folks from the 'glam' world ka koi scene waisay hee nai hai. I don't know. But what we witnessed was great. The waiters were supportive with how we wanted to move their things a little, and we sat for a while there after the shoot and not a single man was staring at me despite my heavy makeup, heels and super bright in-your-face-colorful clothes. I call this PROGRESS! Another challenge for me, surprisingly was my body image.
I have for the longest time seen my arms as fat and hated them. A few years ago, I started appreciating them for what they are, strong and muscular. I know my body type is different and I learnt to appreciate it for that. But when I came back to Pakistan and wore this top again, the self doubt and self body shaming resurfaced.
Strange right? And this is what I realized: People in Pakistan LOVE to body shame without even realizing they're doing it. They say it like they're concerned for you, but it's mean, it's shallow and totally unhelpful. The same confidence I felt abroad left my skin simply because I started hearing the voices of the mean people here. And so when I stepped out for this shoot, I challenged myself to shut those voices out and reconnect with myself who is beautiful from top to bottom regardless of what people may say. It worked.
The Second Look
Since I'm being all creative with names, I'm going to call this one 'Professionally Glam'. I totally imagine myself wearing this to a meeting because it seems bold and really gives me a strong boost of confidence thanks to my favorite color, Yellow!
Top: Zara Pants: Zara Kimono: Zara Bag: Charles & Kieth Watch & Bracelet Set: Anne Klein Shoes: Nine West Necklace: Forever 21 Rings: Seoul Local Market
We did this shoot outside an under construction mall which meant there weren't enough people around during the shoot. So I went out to the market (the very busy Jinnah Super) during the evening for shopping. As I went from one store to another, I was again pleasantly surprised.
People looked for a few seconds, more with intrigue than sleaze, and then looked away. The fact that my clothes were out of norm obviously made people curious and that's totally understandable.
One should be able to differentiate between intrigue and sleaze and intrigue is never bad. So all in all this was again a VERY POSITIVE experience!
The Third Look
I call this one 'Picnic Perfect'. Clearly my creativity for coming up with names for these looks is running out. Lol. I love jumpsuits for the ease and comfort they bring with them (except when you have to pee, then it's a big hassle, if you know what I mean). This particular look is different from my usual ones because it's totally monochromatic and I've always been about bright colors. But I think that makes me feel hot instead of cute and it's good to try different feels sometimes! :P
Jumpsuit: Xact, Thailand Shrug: Xact, Thailand Watch: iWatch Shoes: BCBG Bag: Nina Fara Necklace: Pink Pussy @ Bangkok, Thailand
For this shoot, we went to our local neighborhood park which was filled with men and the kind of men who are bound to stare at you. Or so you'd have thought. See?
Sometimes our preconceived notions are all wrong too. I'm not sure if it was the fact that we were shooting but I was really surprised, again, at how NONE of the men at the park stared at me. We requested a bunch to move so they weren't in the frame or we wanted to use the particular spot they were at, and they readily complied.
And I didn't see them standing on the side staring at us afterwards. Like what is happening in Islamabad? I'm so confused! I WAS IN A JUMPSUIT FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE! And so here's my final learning.
Men seem to stare and harass girls/women who lack confidence and self esteem. This is a well known fact. They would always prey on those they perceive as weak, incapable of defending or fighting for themselves.
I've been through many instances of street harassment in my childhood and teenage years. And I feel that while the society is definitely evolving and people are becoming more accepting to clothing that's a bit out of the usual norm, I myself have evolved into a self confident girl who isn't scared to fight for herself if need be. I think that energy that I can emit now is in itself a deterrent for anyone who might have otherwise tried to harass me. Your body language makes a huge difference in conveying how confident you are in yourself.
Don't shy away from experimenting with your looks. If you're a fan of western wear, or like your eastern wear better as a sleeveless, embrace it, fight for it, and wear it whenever you can. Your dressing makes you who are, and give you the confidence and self esteem boost that you may need. Men have that luxury, so why not you? Wear it with confidence and carry it with pride, and trust me, you'll be just fine. iA. More power to women and to pursuing their dreams (even if it's simply to own more jumpsuits! :D)