THE ROLE OF ETHNIC WEAR IN SELF-EXPRESSION AND EMBRACING ONE’S CULTURAL IDENTITY - Lakshita

THE ROLE OF ETHNIC WEAR IN SELF-EXPRESSION AND EMBRACING ONE’S CULTURAL IDENTITY

Posted by Lakshita on

In today’s world, the process of amalgamation of various cultures and traditions from all across the world and letting go of one’s cultural identity by embracing universal trends are taking place side by side. In such times, ethnic wear stands as a powerful medium through which individuals can not only express their unique identities but also embrace and hold on to them. Ethnic wear is more than just a few traditional garments that are a part of one’s culture as it represents the rich cultural heritage and traditions of different communities across the globe, passed through generations. It carries historical significance and emotions and is sometimes a way to rebel against forced policies favouring Western values.

The purpose of this blog article is to shed some light on the significant role ethnic wear, and ethnic wear for women in particular plays in self-expression and why it is crucial for us to embrace it.

Ethnic clothing, even if it is something as simple as a basic black kurti for women, plays a major role in providing us with the ability to express our real selves freely, without any hesitation. Our clothes reflect our personal values and beliefs, and allow us to communicate our identities without even uttering a single word. The colours, prints, designs and embroidery of our ethnic kurta sets and other ethnic garments come adorned with acts as a symbol of our belongingness to a particular culture, community, region etc. For instance, a person wearing a traditional lehenga choli is expressing their pride in their Indian heritage, while someone clad in a kimono is expressing their pride in their Japanese culture. And since we are talking about self-expression, how can we ignore the way ethnic clothing, be it long ethnic kurtas or short embroidered kurtis boost our self-esteem and make us feel powerful? By draping ourselves in ethnic wear, we express ourselves and build a safe space for other members of our community where they are accepted and allowed to be authentic.

Coming to why we need to embrace ethnic clothing, we would like to highlight a number of reasons.

We will begin with how ethnic clothes promote a more inclusive and accepting society by challenging stereotypes and prejudices associated with different cultures. For example- if a woman is talking about women empowerment draped in a saree, that saree is challenging the stereotype that all Indian women are suppressed. And if we seek representation, we must look like who we are. One simply cannot talk about how the MNC culture is forcing women to wear Western attire while wearing formal shirts and trousers. If you are against it, you will have to wear embroidered ethnic kurtas to work. Secondly, ethnic clothing reminds us who we are, and pushes us to take pride in our cultural heritage. Also, by wearing ethnic clothes, we contribute towards continuing our age-old practices
and safeguarding them from fading away. For example, if you are wearing an ethnic kurti for women from one of your favourite brands, you are doing your bit in keeping the traditional kurti in style without even knowing. And how can we miss out on the way ethnic wear serves as a unifying factor, creating a sense of belonging to the people of our community? Lastly, we would talk about how by wearing ethnic clothing, we are promoting homegrown brands and artisans. There are various styles of traditional clothing and multiple different types of works such as chikan work, zari embroidery etc. that can only be done by skilled artisans who have been in the business for generations. Making ethnic clothes is their source of income and by purchasing and wearing ethnic wear made by them, we are making them financially stronger.

Now, while it is quite important for us to embrace our identity through ethnic clothing, it is also essential that we respect others’ cultures as well. If we aspire to flaunt our Indianness by wearing something like a long kurti for women in foreign lands, it is crucial for us to not judge someone doing the same while wearing an abaya.

In conclusion, ethnic wear transcends fashion trends and plays a key role in helping us in putting our authentic selves out there and making us reconnect with our roots. Also, it helps preserve our cultural heritage and serves as a means for us to honour our ancestors who fought for us. It also helps in developing a deep understanding of our history and origins. By wearing ethnic clothing, people communicate their values, beliefs, and affiliations. By incorporating ethnic clothing into our lives, even if it is through a type of ethnic bottom wear, we contribute towards making this world more inclusive and vibrant. In the ever-changing world of fashion, ethnic wear serves as a reminder that traditional elegance can never go out of style.

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