It’s About the Clothes


It’s About the Clothes

Designers need to weigh in on the Slut Walk debate

Damn the intellectuals. Slut Walk is actually about clothes; about what we wear and how. It may be about feminists against rape and molestation,but think about it: it really is about a black bra vs a white one (one sinful,the other virginal),a leopard print catsuit that flaunts your Brazilian wax vs striped exercise leotards; a Lajpat Nagar petticoat vs La Perla lingerie,a choli vs a choga,a cotton sari vs a designer-made diaphanous chiffon like the one Priyanka Chopra wore in the Dostana song Desi girl.

This is over a round of Happy Hour drinks. Three of us,dressed to the hilt,attempt a sober conversation on Slut Walk fashion. For now,I am wearing hooker heels with a sari and a half-risqué blouse. A cross between the Amsterdam hooker and the Faulkland Road one,I say. We do a high five. But hang on,when it comes to sexual profiling,will someone call an urban,middle-class working woman in a leheriya sari a slut? They might,pipe up the girls. After all I am out drinking in a pub,and it is not even wine. Is a sari an item of hooker chic? We have no clue. One of my friends is wearing a strappy top,clingy blue jeans and red lipstick. In one hand,she holds a margarita,in the other a cigarette. Slutty or sexy? We aren’t sure. The third is in capris,with a proper collared shirt,cute jute bag,just the right demeanour. We don’t need a hotline to French designer Thierry Mugler to ask if she looks slutty. She doesn’t.

So being slutty is about clothes then,isn’t it?

That’s why,if we all turn up in “decent clothes” for the Slut Walk,we may not be able to make the point. Especially in India. It is not the same as in Canada,UK or Brazil where,according to a recent report,real hookers are confused with girls dressed for late-night parties. They have to scream at customers in bars to draw attention to themselves. “For young women caught in the modern dating scene,there is little alternative to the accoutrements of prostitution,” writes Barbara Sumner Burstyn,a widely published New Zealand journalist.

Not in India. Girls on the dating scene wear tight jeans,spaghetti tops,nose pins (in Delhi),blingy chappals,nude lipsticks and jhola bags. Sometimes LBDs. They shiver like idiots at New Year Eve parties because they wear the same things,only slightly jazzed up. Cover up,raps a cop on night duty,because he has learnt to recognise these clothes as potentially slutty,or “troublesome”. In reality,the Delhi girl look is hardly hooker chic. For that matter,nor is the Mumbai style — hot pants with T-shirt,blow dried hair and Kick Me And I Will Kick Your B*** attitude. Hooker chic is what Beyonce,Britney Spears,Nicki Minaj,Madonna and Rihanna wear when they do lap dances crooning to blatantly candid lyrics,wearing S & M inspired clothes,full-length fishnet stockings,torn tights,dark make-up.

Sex workers in our country cannot inspire that fantasy. They are primarily sari-clad women with plunging blouses. They may now be an angry and outraged lot yet will never provoke a Lady Gaga to wear the persona of a hooker as she did when she previewed a new track Government Hooker at the Thierry Mugler fashion show in Paris a couple of months back.

Let’s not take this clothes bit at the Slut Walk lightly. A bra strap peeping from a kurti has moved from being deviant to default,it has left us liberated but confused. What’s okay,what’s not? The Indian Slut persona needs to be talked about. A middle-class housewife in Jodhpur will be labeled a slut the day she wears a sleeveless blouse. An urban,working woman will be called one the day she doesn’t wear a blouse. A young girl will be slut-profiled the moment her thong peeps out. The real slut is doomed anyway — sari,choli,Thierry Mugler body suit or Sabyasachi sari. Both she and her kind and we and our kind need to turn up at the Slut Walk wearing our confusions on our sleeve.

And for once,will someone from the two lobbies inside Indian fashion — Swarovski soaked designers and ‘eco-chic-we are-the-saviours-of-New India’ — stand up and send Indian hooker clothes down the ramp? And interpret the Indian Slut for us. The Slut at Work,The Slut at Leisure,the Girl Accused of Being A Slut For No Reason,the Married Slut,the Molested Slut,the Slut With HIV-AIDS. Give us a literary montage like Walter Benjamin who said,“I have nothing to say,only to show.”

The Slut Walk is a show-and-tell event,girls. Call your designer now.