THE PRICE OF FASHION
Feeling fashionable is a desire- everyone wants it but sadly not everybody gets it. Who doesn’t want to look and feel like a million bucks? Unfortunately the world doesn’t work that way, especially in a country like India where so many citizens live below the poverty line that not everybody is entitled to equal opportunities. With growing disparities between the rich and poor, poverty and lack of education we see many mini-Indias’ within an India.
Taking a stroll down in the history of fashion, there was a common realization that the celebration of fashion was always among the elite and never among the lower classes. Even when it comes to the recording of clothing, it seemed as if the poor were almost never present.
Living in a vanity centric world where only the rich and powerful can afford to join this glamourous club requiring social standing and prestige as an identity card, it is quite ironic that they exist along similar beings who cannot even afford two square meals per day.
If you can afford it then surely you can adorn it but NOT at the cost of mocking those who can’t.
In a shocking edition of Indian Vogue August 2008 it was highly disgraceful to portray wealth and power in the hands of those who evidently couldn’t do so for generations to come. The Magazine’s concept was to emphasize the fact that fashion was no longer a privilege of the rich but now of the poor but what were they actually thinking?
By equating a $200 Burberry umbrella with a barefoot man and a $100 Fendi Bib with an evidently poor child, they certainly made a fool of not only themselves but the multitude of poor people living in our country. The designer accessories clearly created a stark contrast with the environment that screamed a loud and clear message in the name of Hypocrisy!
Vogue India Editor Priya Tanna’s message to critics of the August shoot: “Lighten up,” she said in a telephone interview. Vogue is about realizing the “power of fashion” she said, and the shoot was saying that “fashion is no longer a rich man’s privilege. Anyone can carry it off and make it look beautiful,” she said.
What is the power of fashion for the real Indians of India? The ability to have more than two pairs of clothing for a lifetime, access to clean water to wash off the stains once in a while, to not go barefeet out of despair and poverty. This is just one among several other problems they confront in their day to day life. They have much bigger problems than deciding what to wear the next day. For them, clothing serves only a utilitarian value and nothing more.
It’s not about posing with a luxurious prop and trying to show you can carry it off because you simply cannot. A picture speaks a thousand words and that one picture is enough to not support the same. It has further strengthened the mindset that such people have no sense of ‘fashion’, indirectly stroking the ego of those who think ‘they’ can.
It just takes the confidence out of young aspiring children who were born in the spirals of debt and have no way to even dream the dream of being beautiful and recognized for their efforts because they know they will always be humiliated in some or the other way for being born in such dire circumstances.
1.Heather Timmons, 2008, Vogue’s Fashion Photos Spark Debate in India, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/01/business/worldbusiness/01vogue.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=%22vogue%20india%22&st=cse&oref=slogin& (accessed 28 Sept 2014)
2. Gwen Sharp, 2008, PRIVILEDGE AND POVERTY VOGUE INDIA, http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2008/09/04/privilege-and-poverty-in-vogue-india/ (Accessed 28 Sept 2014)
3. Feature image property of Shefali Judeline Jauhar