I remember the first day in All Girls School in 8th grade. Pretty weird feeling if you ask me. I’ve been to one in first grade, so the memories are as good as someone’s who’s been drunk all night trying to recall what happened. The entire concept felt less like a school and more like a cult. As if the schooling was just a facade and in reality they’ll brainwash me to fighting for a cause. Was hundred percent sure that I’ll go crazy with so many crazy hormones around me. The famous pun of ‘If the countries were all ruled by women then there would be no wars but just a bunch of countries all jealous of one another’ crossed my mind. And with an anxious heart, I remember stepping in. The teacher welcomed me and introduced me to class. Then made to sit in a place which happened to be my future best friend’s favourite spot. Story for another time :P. And hence by bizarre days began.
After a week of making friends and trying to gel in something weird happened. It was the day, the cult decided it’s time for me to learn the cult rules. And guess the period. Sanskrit. Ah!! My Sanskrit teacher called me in front of the class. Since it’s a language class and that too a subject as interesting and understandable as Sanskrit(Full pun intended) I thought I got caught red- handed in my day dreaming. But instead she asked me what’s with the length of my skirt. You see, my skirt was 2 inches below knee level, therefore with the same confidence as Hermione while answering a question, I said ” I am not showing my knees”. She then looked at me and said “I’m well aware of it, your dress looks less like a smart uniform and more like a nun dress”. Then she did something that had me in shock for days. She took some pins, folded my skirt an inch up above my knees and pinned it. She proceeded on to saying my mother to stitch it for me.
This may seen like a silly story but it actually has a lot of importance. Even if it was a girls school, this was the first time I was told that it’s OK to show your knees. That it isn’t any sign of poor character if I do otherwise. Important thing is to look smart and feel good. So often do we tell girls in front of guys in school to wear your dress, knee down. Heck Kendriya Vidyalaya went a step further to make girls wear Salwar kurta. And later decided to make the girls wear pants. This dress is somehow supposed to make girls feel good and confident. Bare in mind, temperature in most of India goes above 30 degree celcius for nearly 9 months of the year.
We often talk about woman empowerment, Equality, justice and what not. All these slogans and #metoo movements that we support. But something as simple as Inches of your skirt can become a major deterrent in curbing the impact. We expect the boys to respect girls no matter what they wear, yet we ourselves engrave in their mind throughout the school years, how a girl who wears a dress above knee level is somehow a bad person or even better :CHARACTERLESS.
I remember our teacher in that school telling us everyday that, we are what me make of ourselves and not by what we wear. Our school encouraged us for wearing whatever we wanted and one specific teacher always insisted we wear the brightest of colors so that we feel bright.So, next time when you think about commenting how a girl is characterless based on the inches of her skirt, remember and realize, you’re part of the problem why girls can’t live freely in this world.