Dress and Fashion Codes: Between Individual Choice and Societal Pressures

As I have said before, the definition beauty is determined by society and the individual.

Sometimes there may be conflict. One aspect of the conflict is the so called imposition of dress and fashion codes. This conflict is perhaps more apparent in Muslim societies. Actually, I was listening/reading the news about the situation in Iran where recently women were forced to dress more conservatively.

A daring Iranian girl – amertad_qp’s photoswww.flickr.com

This reminds me of one my Malay girl-friends back in Malaysia. Some time ago, she told me that she decided to wear the veil. I ask her why. At first she hesitated to answer. Then she began by telling me that this is a requirement of the religion. But after a while she also told me that every one else that she know are veiling themselves, so she felt rather left out; thus she subsequently decided to adorn the veil.

So these are my thoughts on this issue:

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Some people may find it pleasing to see women dress in such a manner.

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Some people may think that beauty is an expression of self. And that this expression of beauty can or should be shared with others.

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Other people might find such expression of beauty to be tasteless and even revolting.

Perhaps they prefer women to be dressed such as this one in this photo below.

Source: hotmuslimah’s webshots

There is one question. Let us consider a hypothetical question. What if one of these woman above does not prefer to dress in such a manner? What if this woman decides to lose her veil? Can or should society (i.e. other people) say to this woman: Hey, you must not discard the veil?

There are many Muslim women wear veils or hijab. Do they wear the veil or the hijab because they truly (in their own volition) choose to do so? Or is it because of societal pressure? Do they wear the veil because the veil is imposed upon them by society?

I don’t know the answers, and I doubt that any one does. (Of course people can give their opinions, and even argue that their opinion is right).

To conclude this entry: I was told by some one (who is a Muslim) that God made humans to be his most beautiful creation. And if I’m not mistaken he also says that God made humans to love beauty.

Indeed one of the beauties of human creation is that each of us is unique. In this context, each of us has our own unique definition and conception of beauty, even though society may have a list of criterion of what constitute beauty. So if society decides to impose its own definition of beauty, as in the form of dress and fashion codes, then the society is denying one of the fundamental nature of humans: that is their love of beauty and their own expression of beauty as defined by themselves.

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