Hate Towards Fashion Shows in The Valley
The Emerging Social Dynamics
I am born and brought up Kashmiri, and I am proud of it. My culture is a mixed one since
Kashmir is a land of diverse cultures. This is because for centuries, Kashmir has been ruled by kings and queens of different regions and religions. Our diverse culture is not just reflected in our foods but our clothing as well.
Through my childhood, I have seen how our weddings and family functions are like fashion
parades for the family and the guests alike. When we had a wedding or a special function in the family, my Mom and Dad used to take me to Srinagar to get the best dresses for me, since we didn’t have grand stores at my hometown Sopore.
We all love fashion. For weddings, affluent Kashmiris go to Punjab, Delhi or even Mumbai to
buy the best outfits for themselves. With the boom in online business, Kashmiris routinely
order not only from within India but also from other parts of the world to look their best. I
remember that for my cousin’s wedding, I ordered fabrics from Jaipur to get the outfits of my choice made.
I design my own clothes, because designing is like a hobby. I have Kashmiri friends who have perused designing as a career and are earning well. They are living their dream of working as professional designers.
The Hate That Is Spewed
There were times when the approach of people towards a liberal society was negated by the conservative lot. Thankfully, Kashmir has moved on from the time when it was run by a
conservative mob. The diverse changes include setting up of institutes like SSMD School of
Fashion and Design. Recently, I was going through their Instagram page. They had uploaded pictures of clothing designed by the students.
A particular comment caught my attention. It said, “Sab jahanami ho sharam haya bhool gyi hai”. You all are going to hell since you have forgotten the morals. I opened that person’s profile. To my surprise, the guy had uploaded his own photographs wearing an undershirt. In his lexicon, the people who design clothes must go to hell and their morality is in question. But this man can display his semi-naked body on the internet for the world to see. Recently, a fashion show was held in Srinagar titled ‘Kashmir Fashion Show’. It showcased rich clothing worn by both men and women. The video of the fashion show was uploaded on YouTube where it caught my attention.
The girls modeled beautiful designer lehangas and salwar suits. The boys were dressed in jeans, tees and also sherwanis. It was an amazing collection of outfits, and the confident Kashmiri models walked in confidence on the ramp. I could see their eyes filled with hope and their smiles spoke of their happiness. I felt happy for these youngsters – that Kashmir has come so far. When I was in my early 20s, it was a dream for us to even think of an event like this. Why The Demonization?
I moved on to the comments section to see the reaction of the Kashmiri youth towards the
fashion show. Many comments were hateful, and I was not surprised. We have been seeing
similar reactions to all such initiatives over the last few years.
Many youngsters had demonized the organizers and the participants in the event. One
commentator wrote, “Welcome to a new step of destruction”. For this gentleman, it is okay to label someone’s dream, someone’s choice as a step to destruction because you don’t agree with it. Does this mean that the freedom of others should be curtailed because you don’t agree with it?
The haters even lashed out at the parents of the participants for allowing their wards to
participate in a fashion show. They said it was shameful that the parents should allow such
activity. I can’t figure out why should somebody’s parents give in to societal pressure and let their own kids suffer in pain just to please the society.
The pictures from the show were put on Facebook by somebody. Hate was being thrown at the participants of the show. People wrote “spit on their graves”, “path to destruction”, “side effects of education, talent and hard work”. I don’t understand how people can use such harsh language for their own people – sons and daughters of the same soil.
As usual, hate was directed most towards the girls who participated in the show. There were comments like “paise ke liye kuch bhi karegi ye ladkiyan”; “all thanks to new breed of liberal aunties who think nanga naach, t-shirt aur torn jeans lgana is empowerment of women”. Many more comments of hate were directed at the women.
After reading these comments, I checked the video again. I could not see what these gentlemen were referring to “nanga naach” or naked dancing. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Boys and girls displayed beautiful and elegant clothing in a decent, sophisticated manner.
‘Everything Is Women’s Fault’ For the haters, everything that they don’t like about the world is the fault of women. They have normalized the targeting and slut shaming of women. God forbid if women do what makes them happy. Then the haters just lose it.
From the enthusiastic response of the participants, it is clear that Kashmiri youngsters who
want to bring in change. They want to participate in events like these to make their mark in the world of fashion and entertainment. It is strange to see other youngsters trying to stall their dreams and are seemingly ready to go to any extent.
On the video of the fashion show on YouTube, a guy commented, “Jo b is show mai jaate hai wo baaz aajaye”. Whoever goes to an event like this should stop now.
It seems that Kashmir is caught up in an intra-society conflict. There are those among us who want to fulfill their dreams. Others don’t agree because it does not fit into their life-view. From comments posted regarding the fashion show, it is evident that a section of youth of our society believes that fashion shows are immoral and against Kashmiri culture.
This is confusing. The models were wearing full clothes. They were wearing the clothing that is commonly work by most of us Kashmiris. How can this be termed as immoral and against our culture? What does immorality mean to them? To me it seems like anything these people don’t agree to is labeled as ‘immoral’.
We Love To Represent Our Culture A few months ago, University of Jammu organized a cultural event. Many of us Kashmiri girls dressed up in our traditional attire and performed Kashmiri dance. We all were so happy to celebrate our culture and share the beauty of our culture. Many of the Kashmiri girls were presenting our graceful dance for the firs time, and were thrilled. For all of us, it was heart-warming to represent our culture among people of different cultures. Many haters were bent upon spoiling our happiness. I think the only thing that thrills them is to take other people down. But this hatefulness is not our heritage, our culture. Are these people so restricted that the dreams of others make them uncomfortable?
Should the Kashmiri youth be forced to leave Kashmir to pursue their dreams because their
dreams make some people uncomfortable? Whose culture is this that the haters seek to
impose upon us? Kashmir has the history of hundreds of years whereby people with diverse
cultures lived together. Why do some seek to impose upon us the borrowed Taliban culture and erase our own beautiful Kashmiri culture?