Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Make your daughters read this (!)


I sent this to Straits Times knowing that they were unlikely to publish this. They have not. 
 
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Six inches behind time (the way students dress)

I chanced upon a link about the way female students at a local polytechnic dressed.
 
Only after I had cast my ‘anthropological gaze’ at it did I realize that the story was at least a year old.
 
I am more than six inches behind time.
 
Where are the mums and dads who are supposed to say “You’re not going out dressed like THAT!”?
 
Have they abdicated in unison?
 
From the photos it appears that while most young Singapore girls dress quite modestly where their tops are concerned, they seem intent on flaunting their legs and knees and thighs.
 
I would hazard a guess that these are all actually ‘good girls’. They are conscious of how breasts have been sexualized. So they cover up there.
 
But these are innocent girls. Na├»ve even, with no sexual experience, and therefore they do not – yet – understand the attraction that exposed thighs have on men.
 
Why is it not unusual for women in some tribal communities to walk around with their breasts exposed? Yet post-puberty women always have their pelvic region covered.
 
Breasts are for nurturing babies. There is no shame in letting them hang out.
 
Thighs, on the other hand, are something else.
 
In ironic contrast, breast-feeding in public is frowned upon in Singapore but young girls feel free to wear very short, very tight shorts, or belts masquerading as skirts.
 
I am not saying that young Singapore girls should only wear burka-like tents.
 
The favourite excuse is that the hot weather makes girls resort to shorts.
 
Take it from me, sister, that the coolest, most comfortable way to dress in this weather is a loose-fitting dress in old-fashioned (preferably organic) cotton, silk, linen or new-technology fabric that wicks sweat away.
 
Cinch the waist with a scarf or belt to smarten up.
 
Flip-flops say you are slip-shod. Ditch them.
 
Some people say that we should dress such that other people would respect us.
 
I say we should dress ALSO to show that we respect others.
 
If there is convention or a dress code stipulated, follow it. [see below]
 
Love your neighbour as yourself. So think: how much do I love myself?
 
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My son and I attended our first 'Black tie' event last week. It was his 'Leavers Dinner'. We had to go to a suit hire place to hire his 'dj' (dinner jacket, or tuxedo). (Until he stops growing there is no point in buying/making him his own dj.)
 
His dad was alright as he was used to such events and had a wide selection of cummerbunds, matching bow ties, etc to go with his 'Black tie'.
 
Hours before the event, son said, "A few boys in my class thought 'Black tie' meant wearing a black tie."
 
True enough, a couple of boys and dads came wearing a black tie (reserved for funerals, actually), and one dad came in denim jeans and waist-coat. Their sons were in Black tie, though.
 
Our young men looked terribly smart and us mums could only look at them with such pride.
 
In modern urban society the school has done well to organize a series of 'rites of passage' activities.
 
The boys had all been away for a week on an adventure trip: separation from normal society, the first time that many of these boys had been away from home for this length of time.
 
They experience all sorts of testing: transition, learning the skills for adult life, overcoming sense of trepidation -- will they succeed in rowing two days down a river. Much less painful than circumcision.
 
Black tie dinner: they are reincorporated into adult society, wearing adult clothes, practising adult etiquette. They could even choose 'red' or 'white' non-alcoholic drinks.
 
Goes back to one of my 'parenting slogans': time and place for everything.