Sunday, December 7, 2014

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A fashion historian says it used to be acceptable for women to wear
far less
An Indian television presenter who was slapped by a male audience
member because he thought her dress was too revealing has tradition on
her side, according to a historian.
Gauhar Khan was left visibly traumatised after the attack last month,
while she filmed the grand finale of singing competition Raw Star.
Akil Malik, 24, took offence to her cutaway dress and ran up to the
stage to hit her across the face and threaten her.
"Being a Muslim woman, she should not have worn such a short dress,"
the Mumbai police quoted him as saying afterwards.
"Actresses are the face of society and they should not wear skirts and
short clothes as they make youngsters get attracted to them
sexually…if actresses stop wearing short clothes, crime will decrease
and lead to a better society."
The incident prompted a debate in India about changing fashions and
the notion of modesty but according to historian Toolika Gupta, short
dresses are an ancient tradition in India.
Although the country is most associated with floor-length saris and
salwar kameezes for women, that has not always been a case.
Ms Gupta wrote on the BBC News website that what many Indians today
believe are home-grown ideas of decorum and modesty are in fact
British imports left over from the Empire.
The earliest representations of women show them with minimal clothing,
she said, including in sculptures from the Maury and Sunga periods
around 300 BC, when men and women wore rectangular pieces of fabric,
covering their genitals and little else.
"Modesty has had different definitions over time and in different
regions and communities," she wrote. "It was not always about covering
your face and body and in many respects India's hot climate led the
way. People just did what was convenient."
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