If we could give a word of advice to trolls, it would be: READ.
The latest obsession of Internet's women body police is Priyanka Chopra's no blouse show on a magazine cover. Well, India's unemployment rate has gone up from four percent to 7.6 in the last two years (Just saying). The Bollywood actor turned singer turned Hollywood star draped a golden saree designed by Tarun Tahiliani for a US magazine cover. The writing on the magazine cover is in bold: "It's getting hot". Chopra posted the photo on Instagram and said, "I love how I feel when I’m wearing one," calling saree "the most iconic and recognized silhouettes from India".
All hell broke loose soon after. Instagrammers gathered to give Chopra some lessons on sanskar. "You look fabulous in saree but the way you are wearing is not related to our culture," wrote one user. "Kuch toh saram karo es desh ki," wrote another one. One user called her 'The uncultured Indian' and another one wrote "It is ok if you cannot make us proud! at least don't represent our culture in this dirty way! Shaeme on you!" Well, shame that he couldn't spell shame right.
Now while the word 'culture' featured many times on the comment section, it seems the 'gramers hardly knew of Indian culture otherwise surely they would have known that the blouse is a British import. At the same time when women in Bengal walked around without a blouse, European ladies laced themselves tight in corsets and dresses that covered them neck to toe. It may have turned into a symbol of sanskar, but the fact is that piece of clothing wasn't a part of Indian culture till a woman, Jnanadanandini Debi, popularised the idea of blouse just so that Indian women can enter clubs under the Raj.
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Fashion is such an important part of global culture, often arising from centuries of tradition, and doesn’t go out of style when the seasons change. The ‘Saree’ is one of the most iconic and recognized silhouettes from India. To me, its beauty lies in its versatility, not just in drape and fabric. It embodies elegance, femininity, and power, and I love how I feel when I’m wearing one. I’m so proud to be wearing a @Taruntahiliani saree on @instylemagazine’s July cover! Thank you @laurabrown99 for being such an amazing creative partner, and for sharing some of India’s incredible fashion with the world. #IndianSummer #ProudDesi (Link to the story in bio)
And it was all because Jnanadanandini Debi, the wife of Satyendranath Tagore, was refused entry to clubs run by the British in India, for covering her breasts with her saree alone. Just to gain entry to those clubs, she decided to don the blouse under the saree. She went around promoting the concept covering the breasts through the use of various fabrics that soon caught on and turned into a fashion.
Meanwhile, in Kerala, the covering of breasts was closely tied to caste, and lower caste women were forbidden from covering their breasts, until the Channar Revolt which granted them the right to do so.
In India, there were no written codes of conduct or any laws to define the clothes that should be worn. Whatever was convenient, became the attire. In fact, sculptures from the Maury and Sunga periods (about 300 BC) reveal that men and women alike wore rectangular pieces of fabric, one on the lower part of the body and one on the upper part-- and that was pretty much it. Sculptures from the Gupta period showed that it was pretty normal for women to go topless. No one would complain about culture being ruined.
It can very well be said that the blouse was Britain's most powerful export to India, one that outlived the influence of the crown and turned into sanskar.
Angrez chale gaye, par trolls chhod gaye.