Are We Defined by what We Wear?

suitAuthored by Tumusiime K. Deo

Going by biblical stories, the first human beings as we are told, Adam and Eve never wore clothes on their bodies and that was just fine. The connotation of them getting aware of their nakedness ‘immediately after they sinned’ in the garden of Eden, is seriously only confusion that doesn’t quite rhyme perfect with the gist of the story, where Eve reportedly plucked a fruit from the forbidden tree and handed it over to Adam. Dressed or naked, the focus ought to have been put on Eve’s act, which in my view is the most important issue. I so believe that the current obsession about dressing and dress code in many of our societies is rooted in this derogatory creation story.

What we have failed to appreciate, is that men and women are practically naked every day, everywhere, because the thin lining over their bodies is simply a little cover that could come off with ease. At the end of the day, we lose the bigger picture of our humanity by focusing so much on how neatly we are dressed or not, forgetting that dress in itself is very subjective and largely irrelevant.

Think of the beautiful animals we keep in our homes…cows, goats, sheep, name them. Year in, year out, they never purchase clothes. Their skin which perfectly displays their body outline is their permanent dress. Lately,  creative designers have brought onto the market what has come to be known as leggings and jeggings usually worn by ladies. What this type of dressing does, is that it gives a close depiction of the body outline of the person wearing it. It’s too thin to allow so much extra covers on the inside…and at this, these ladies look just like beautiful cows and goats. They choose to show off their bodies, they are proud of who they are-and that should be just okay.

At the end of the day, I still insist that one’s dressing does not necessarily define who they are. Thing is that society has chosen to predefine what amounts to decency and what does not, but in so doing, we again miss the bigger picture. Some men wear long dresses known as ‘Kanzu’ and we think it is okay yet when a man appears in a conventional dress, he’s quickly labeled as gay. Years gone by, women used not to wear trousers, but today it is the order of the day.

What we do not quickly realize is that people design their dresses for various purposes which may include that which brings out best what their mama gave ‘em, but goes down to affordability too. If society does not purchase clothes for anyone, society cannot fix how anyone should dress. A guy may wear a suit worth a Million Shillings because he has the money to afford, but that does not necessarily make him any worth more than a  Karimojong herdsman who walks about completely naked.

Society has also developed a tendency of defining some types of dressing as nude, to an extent of attempting to legislate on how people should dress.This in my view is absolute nonsense and should be left to individuals to define what best suits them. I often hear people define nudeness as any dressing especially for the ladies that goes far high up above the knees as to show one’s thighs.

What we don’t realize is that men too have thighs just as ladies do. Why should it be okay for men to appear in shorts and wrong for women? How come women who wear dresses showing their cleavages, navals and backs are never criticized? Says who, that women who wear long dresses are any cleaner than those wearing the skimpy type?

The only major problem I notice is not with the person dressed or not, but those that criticize others. We have a tendency of sexually wired minds that define especially ladies as romantic or flat depending on their dressing. And for the gents, presenting in an expensive blazer should not be the focus, but what one’s mind is capable of delivering. Barack Obama of America is no ordinary guy in town, but often I see him address big gatherings with his sleeves folded away. It just doesn’t matter whether sleeves are folded or straight-that’s his personal choice; and we free human beings can also choose how we wish to appear for the day.

Let’s look at dressing a little more practically. Athletes’ foot is a fungal infection that is worsened by wearing closed shoes. I have personally carried this with me for the past decades, simply because no matter how much treatment I apply, the feet can never heal as long as I perpetually wear closed shoes that keep my feet moist. Should I suffer the consequences just for fear of society judgment of my smartness? Not all, so for my own purpose, I sometime wear open shoes and never felt guilty about it. And hey! Need we be reminded that it is advisable to walk bear footed in order to keep the body’s electric system in sync with the earth?

But on a more serious note, many ladies do wear open shoes every day, and this seems okay for ladies and not okay for gents! Funny world we live in. My thinking is that the question of dress is an unnecessary human construed burden with no clear-cut formula, and must be left absolutely to the discretion of the individuals. I so strongly believe that one’s dress code does not necessarily define who they are.