"I didn’t want to wear a sari, I wanted to wear a ball gown"
Desi clothes are beautiful, often adorned with jewels, intricate designs and bright colours. They are a recognised aspect of South Asian culture and have even been adapted to Western culture.
There have been domestic disputes over whether or not they should still be worn. The younger generation might want to wear clothing such as dresses, playsuits and shorts. But in some households, parents might be opposed to this.
Children might also want to wear Western dresses to events such as weddings or parties but parents would rather have them wear traditional clothing such as saris, lehengas or salwar kameez.
Is this right? Should British Asian girls still wear Desi clothes?
Some families might demand that their daughters wear traditional clothing. One of the reasons for this could be that wearing Desi clothes shows modesty and this is a virtue that is still widely admired across the Asian community.
Simran says: “When it was my cousin’s wedding, I didn’t want to wear a sari, I wanted to wear a ball gown because that would have been different, but my parents wanted me to wear a traditional Asian outfit.”
Western clothing often accentuates the figure. Therefore, Asian girls might be discouraged to wear this type of clothing because it shows off parts of the body which might be considered provocative.
Additionally, it may be seen as more respectful for girls to wear Desi clothes. If a girl is renowned for wearing short clothes, then the rest of the Asian community might deem her as having no values and being over-westernised.
Therefore, families would want them to wear clothing that fully covers the body in order to uphold the way that they are viewed by society.
As generations change, the dress code for Asian girls also changes. Nowadays, clothing such as crop tops and shorts are even worn in India so they’re bound to be worn by girls in Britain and other Western countries.
Does this mean that culture is no longer being preserved? Of course not.
The way that a person dresses doesn’t define whether they are cultural or not. A person who doesn’t wear Desi clothes might be just as associated and connected with their culture as someone who does wear Desi clothes.
And there are still girls who choose to wear traditional clothing of their own accord.
“I occasionally wear Desi clothes. Not because of my family or because of modesty, but because I think it’s important to hold on to the culture that you derive from. Who doesn’t love Asian clothing? It’s nice to mix it up sometimes!”
This shows that just because a girl is raised in a Western country or wears Western clothing, doesn’t mean that she loses touch with her culture.
Jayna Patel, 24, doesn’t wear Desi clothes: “I hardly ever wear Asian clothing. I don’t really attend events or weddings in the Asian community so I don’t have reason to wear anything other than what I usually wear which is Western clothing.
“But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have any knowledge of my culture. My family are quite modern too but they’re still cultural, wearing Desi clothes isn’t the only way to preserve culture.”
In places such as India or Pakistan, wearing Desi clothes to work or to an office would be completely acceptable because it is attire that is familiar in these countries.
But in a Western country, those who don’t wear Western clothing might be discriminated against. An article in The Telegraph supports this as some Pakistani women have been “driven to abandon wearing traditional Islamic dress in order to get a good job.”
This reveals that in some cases, traditional wear is unacceptable which means that Asian women have to adapt and wear what is in accordance with the society that they live in.
Another inhibitor of wearing Desi clothes is comfort. Asian clothing can be quite uncomfortable to wear sometimes and this might discourage some girls from wearing it.
Will Asian girls continue to wear Desi clothes in the future? There’s a possibility that as generations evolve, Desi clothes may fade away.
Many girls nowadays don’t know how to wear certain outfits such as saris by themselves. This could mean that fewer people will wear Asian clothing as time goes by.
It is likely that the only places where it’ll be worn are at special occasions such as weddings and parties.
On the other hand, there are still girls who prefer wearing outfits such as salwar kameez over western clothing. So this could be carried on into the future.
Tia thinks: “Being in the Western world means that Desi clothes will have to be let go of in order to adapt to the ideals of society.”
But Carishma says: “I think that if people still want to wear Desi clothes, then that should be respected. There isn’t any harm in it.”
People should have the freedom to wear whatever they feel is comfortable, whether it be Western clothes or Desi clothes.