Omg! You are married? No way! You don’t look married, AT ALL!” - have you ever heard such remarks after marriage that you don’t look like one because you have no similarities to how a married woman looks like?
At times when it can be taken as a compliment as well, more often than not, the remarks made by people around are because of the way you carry yourself after marriage. In such situations, my response is often something like, “Oh, you caught me... I am only playing the role of a married woman in a drama called, Life” (winks).
I am sure many married women would want to give similar or at least some answer in response to the reactions of people when they act like you have given them a shock of their life by telling them that you live with a human species known as ‘husband’, yet you do not look like a woman who owns one.
Few days ago, a group of my friends were having an interesting discussion on the same topic. Some of these women shared similar experiences of receiving responses that, while at times, can be positive and appreciative of your looks or how you carry yourself, are often sarcastic and pointing towards you not looking ‘married’ enough. So we all started discussing that why this happens to some of us and figured that one reason could be the way we dress up. Our dressing style is not the one that a married woman is supposed to follow in our society. Yes, some of us do not always wear jewellery that may indicate that we are married. Our choice of clothing is often not in line with the very idea of how a married woman should dress up because she is ‘married’. But, then who would vote for wearing a perfectly ironed kaam wala jora with a dhai gaz ka dupatta over PJs? I understand that some women are expected to dress up in a certain way due to the undue in-laws’ pressure, but what about an individual’s own peace and comfort?
Some women love to wear gold jewellery which is perfectly fine if they can carry it well and with ease. But what do I do when I feel like I am a dharti with bojh of gold upon me and try and get rid of all of these items soon as I am back home from any family occasion, as those are the only places where I visit wearing these ornaments? Why? you might ask. Well, that’s because aunties will die of boredom at such gatherings if they won’t get to discuss what my husband bought for me, how many tolas’ are these items all khandani bahus are wearing and who is the perfect cattle in the family farm.
I have often heard women say that they have certain restrictions upon the way they dress up because they are now married and need to ‘look’ married. Oh and how can I forget to mention those aunties who are always looking for the opportunities to remind you of how the lipstick you are wearing is not dark enough, how your nose pin looks too small and earrings almost invisible, how you look like you are living in rags when your husband has enough wealth to be able to buy you some ornaments to wear so that you could look like how a married woman should look like. Sounds familiar?
Clearly, if a married woman decides to wear something more casual and easy to carry, you can’t judge her or her husband’s financial position. If she decides to wear a light fabric in scorching heat on her first Eid, you can’t compare her to a Star Plus bahu who may have been wearing a banarsi suit with golden dapkay ka kaam to provide some visible evidences of her marital status, but was clearly not happy with the excessive sweating. I feel bad for all those poor souls like her who don’t even have the liberty of choosing what to wear on daily basis.
Wear this, don’t wear that, apply x amount of makeup, married girls don’t talk like this, married girls don’t sit like that, you should do this you are married, you shouldn’t do that you are married, act like a married woman so that you look like one, think about your husband at least, and the list of such unsolicited advices is endless. As if, the girl turns into an infant who needs fresh course on how to lead her life after marriage. One of my least favourite acts is that of forcing newly married or about-to-get-married women to get their nose pierced even if they don’t want to. I fail to understand why a pierced nose is so important to look married and have often seen some women cry for being forced into wearing a nose ring on their wedding day after going through the pain that the fresh piercing often brings with it. So much trauma for the big day!
People get so busy in setting up paths of life of a married woman for her to follow that they forget their own. We feel that it’s our social responsibility to guide her even about the way she should be dressing up and carrying herself to meet our set standards forget other major issues faced by women post marriage. Please stop doing this and always keep an eye on where you may be crossing the line.
It is sad that even in today’s era, a married woman is treated as an object to glorify her husband’s wealth while also offering a proof to the world of having a spouse in her life. A lot of women don’t want to ‘look unmarried” nor do they really enjoy being questioned about whether they have a life partner or not. These women just want to be comfortable in whatever they wear. I know that a lot of married women do not have that liberty but I really wish they had. When men are not obligated to dress up or behave in a certain way to look married then why are women expected to follow certain norms to market the stamp of being married?
The writer is a Lahore-based marketing & communications professional. She can be reached at [email protected]