Is It Disrespectful For Non-Indian Women To Wear Saris?
5:45 pm, February 6th | by Hillary Reinsberg
They’re colorful, often ornate, and carry a long history. It’s no surprise American celebrities have embraced the Indian sari. But one columnist thinks it’s tasteless and ignorant.
Columnist Palash R. Ghosh writes in India’s International Business Times:
From Oprah Winfrey to Elizabeth Hurley to Paris Hilton to Madonna and Cherie Blair, some prominent women in the west have been seen flaunting the Indian-style clothing in various public forums.
While these women are not intentionally seeking to do any “harm” (and in many cases are exhibiting their fondness for Indian culture), to me, as a person of Indian descent, I find the whole spectacle rather patronizing and yet another effort to both “trivialize” and unnecessarily “exoticize” Indian women and their lifestyles.
In short, Western women look ridiculous wearing saris and most of them likely know nothing about Indian culture.
Ghosh goes on to explain that while non-Indians may see saris as a colorful and comfortable style that pays respect to Indian culture, the piece of clothing was originally intended to keep women covered up and “modest.” It is less extreme than the burqa, but according to Ghosh, not by much. Ghosh’s suggestion is that if non-Indian women aren’t familiar with the history and meaning of the sari, they shouldn’t wear it. They’re clinging on to a bastardized Bollywood version of India, Ghosh argues.
I have a different, and less divisive solution: encourage women to learn a little more about the sari and Indian history and culture. From there, women can make their own decisions about whether they want to wear them. Tada!