Is culture killing creativity?

By Hand On The Hip - 5/09/2019

Hey guys!

It has definitely been a while since I sat down to put forth my thoughts. A couple of days ago, Priyanka Chopra's avant-garde look for the Met Gala's theme Camp: Notes on Fashion spun around a lot of memes and jokes. It is beyond amazing how she rose above them all and could not care less about what the whole world thinks about her experimental look, but for a normal girl like me, there's no way I could afford to wear something that radical. Is it possible for us to do something different, something inventive without being laughed at for it? Are we afraid to wear what we truly want because we don't wanna be judged? That whole meme charade inspired me to write something along the lines of creativity being crushed by culture.

This took me back to the time I was in high school when I wrote an article on pop musicians for the teen entertainment section of a very popular newspaper called The Indian Express. I have always been a major music buff and back in the day, I was a hardcore devotee of Britney Spears and J-Lo. So when I was 14, I decided to do a piece on some of my favorite musicians and to my very surprise, the article was published in the newspaper. It sure as hell was a massive deal for a teenage girl like me! But my joy was short-lived when a stranger, who had no idea what the article meant to me or the message I was trying to convey, shamed the article because he was against the idea of western music being promoted in India as it was not our "culture". He also mentioned that he did not want his "teenage son" looking at the pictures of the semi-clad pop stars in the article. I was in shock but was okay with all of this because it was his opinion and he had the right to express it, but you will not believe what he did next. I was called in to my school principal's office where she held an invitation that was sent in with reference to my article inviting her and her girls to a "nude" party! That shattered me from within and I never wrote for any newspaper or magazine again. I always have this one thought lingering in my head - Did that horrid man successfully manage to murder the fearless writer in teenage me?

Now let's move on to the world of fashion. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj - there are the names that come to my mind when it comes to avant-garde. They definitely have the balls to pull off anything! They wear whatever they like and are every designer's dream model! But do you think an average 5 foot something like me could dress up in a PVC bodysuit with six inches stilettos and take a stroll down the street? Absolutely not! I'm going to be the talk of the town and not in a good way. I cannot even count the number of times some of my own family members have given me awkward looks for my outfit only because it was different from what they're used to or doesn't promote our culture and religion. It's not even uncanny anymore that if you are in an Indian outfit, half the aunties in the room won't even acknowledge your presence if you've forgotten to wear your bindi or your dupatta. Don't even get me started on cleavage! Sometimes even something as minimal as a blue eye shadow could end up making you feel like a weirdo in situations like this. I strongly believe that if we, human beings, were encouraged to wear anything we'd like, do our hair in a big fat bun or shave half of it or color it neon yellow, the world would have been a more colorful place. There would've been many more Picassos or Versaces in this planet.

In a country like India, even though we mindlessly celebrate Independence Day and call ourselves free, as an individual, as a woman, I don't really feel free. We are not free from those judgemental aunties. We are not free from women blaming women for wearing skimpy clothes and inviting rape. We are not free from the men who stare at our legs like a tiger would at meat. We are not free from randos on the internet misusing our pictures. If you think we are free, think again. We are absolutely not allowed to express our creativity because culture trumps creativity! And who do you think can bring about a change? Us! The youth, basically! So, men and women, do join hands and make sure we are not shaming people for expressing their creativity. Let another human being live his life and live it the way he wants. Who are we to judge them? Black or white, straight or gay, tall or short - everybody has the right to live the way they want to and wear what they want. Let the shaming end.

Styling Notes: I wore a simple plain kurti with a colorful shawl around my head, some tribal make-up and chunky jewellery and a big colorful bag to add that pop of color. Would you walk around wearing your shawl around your head? I don't know if I would, but it was definitely worth wearing it this way for this photoshoot! :)

Hand On The Hip

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