Thursday, November 14, 2013

YES, (Western) WOMEN should wear the saree!!!

(Img via)

UGH. I came across this utterly annoying article the other day on Facebook - "Can Western women carry off the sari - and should they even try?" (Ahem...vomit...compose oneself...

The article was a criticism of the British Prime Minister's wife, Samantha Cameron, for looking "dowdy" in a saree. It goes on to say that she seemed to try too hard "to fit in"; she was "mimic[ing] other cultures"; and that as a Western woman she had a "superficial" knowledge about the saree. And then the writer goes on to say how she would have preferred her to wear some kind of Indian-looking Western clothes. So, apparently there is such thing as the snooty "Fashion Police" at the temple for Diwali (told ya, moral poling on steroids!

Okay, so it wasn't the best color on Samantha Cameron - but seriously? Blaming it on being a Western woman rather than a bad color choice? Seriously...? This wasn't just any dress-up party....this was DIWALI!!! AT A TEMPLE!!! Of course she should wear a saree!!! I would have been offended if she had NOT worn a saree to such an important religious function, in the presence of God - not to mention honoring the culture of which she was celebrating.

The article is eerily reminiscent of equally crappy article, "Western women should not wear the Indian sari", written by a totally senile male, who equates Western women who like the Indian saree to be "playing games", and like "trick or treaters" (I personally think this man is envious that he doesn't get to wear the saree!!! Or maybe he does after wifey goes to bed!) He goes on to say "You can wear the sari only if you are willing to fully embrace Indian culture, even the parts that you as a white Westerner would normally find offensive or even appalling." So, it is Jai Hind, or bust then? Fully embrace and convert yaaar! So that means just because you like to wear the saree - you should also embrace EVERY SINGLE thing - or else you are NOT allowed to wear it....? By EVERY single thing, I guess he means.... sati, dowry, honor killings, caste system, arranged marriage, being disappointed if you are "cursed" with a girl child, joint families, not using the left hand for anything, letting husband eat first, pranama, 5 hour pooja, vaastu shastra, don't enter kitchen while menstruating, only eat Indian food but no "outside food", "kitty parties", and if she is to dance then she should only do Bharat Natyam. Yes, apparently just to wear this garment, a Western woman has to entirely give up her culture, just to appreciate another...??? Because it is ONLY either/or - for this writer. Can you imagine if somebody said that to a woman of Indian origin? That if an Indian girl wears jeans, then she had better only celebrate Christmas and eat cereal for breakfast - otherwise she should not dare wear it? And that the girls are being "superficial", or "not understanding" of the rich cultural origins of jeans? Last time I checked, nobody cared. Why? Because it is an utterly ridiculous thing to say!!!

So much talk about what women are wearing, and of course none about the men. Whether they choose to wear a dhoti or a suit - no criticism of them at all! (Is criticism limited only to women's appearances? Is policing only reserved for women?

First of all, women - or anybody, for that matter - are free to wear whatever they want, whenever they want. What others choose to wear or not wear is none of anyone's business. Fashion is an expression of one's individuality.

Secondly, I find "Can Western women carry off the saree" question to be totally racist, and profiling Western women as these gawky, "dowdy", uncultured, unfashionable people who don't know their hemline from their ass. Why is it that to some people everything that Western women do is equated to triviality, flaunting, superficiality etc? We are not superficial  people (only on TV it looks like that). We are not Playboy models with fake breasts, gobs of makeup, and no brain cells. To think that every Western woman is like that ("The West" being 60+ countries) is complete ignorance.

The fact is, ALL WOMEN should wear the saree, at least once in a lifetime. Why? Because it is timeless, elegant, and looks good on all body types. The saree never goes out of style. It looks good on everyone - every shape, every skin tone...and the reason why it has survived and STILL remains in trend is that it has a timeless design. You can wrap it so many different ways, you can choose how much to reveal, you can wear it in any weather, in any fabric - it's flexibility knows no measures. And it covers your legs, bum and boobs - and still manages to look sexy!

Honestly, I find it a bit disturbing that these writers think it is unacceptable to appreciate other cultures - "should they even try?" I guess you're damned if you do, or damned if you don't! What about jaisa des vaisa bhes? It is certainly not ignorant or superficial to be interested in another culture - and dress is a part of culture. You know what IS ignorant and superficial? Thinking that just because a woman has a certain skin color - that she doesn't know anything about other cultures!!! What if Samantha Cameron had an Indian boyfriend back in the day? We don't know if she did or she didn't! What if she has one now? (LOL!) What if she has a genuine love and in-depth knowledge for Indian culture?

(Like a boss...)

Noting all of the above - clearly, the author has not seen Mrs. Madh Mama rocking the saree, And oh, do I rock it like no other! Not only that, but I get tons of compliments from both Indians and Westerners alike. And if somebody thinks my dressing style is offensive, then they can shove it! I don't wear clothes for other people. I wear clothes for myself, and it just so happens that Indian clothes are the most comfortable on the planet (that, and it covers my big bum!)

I honestly took offense to this article because I wear salwar kameez all the time, and I wear a saree to every important event. Not because I'm the wife of an Indian citizen, but because I love it. And it's as simple as that!!!

(And some more, couldn't resist!)


P.S. To the writers of the articles: there are bigger issues than what women are wearing.
Get over it!

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Dear readers, what did you think of those two articles? Do you think women have a right to wear whatever they want? Do you think it is bad to honor other cultures' in personal fashion? Who else rocks the saree?

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101 comments

  1. Great article! I wrote you a while back about western women wearing a saree. You were very kind a while back to encourage me to wear one and now I am hooked.
    I have three and LOVE them. I wore my first one to a beach wedding and got compliments all night.
    They are very comfortable and I am a bit chunky with a bum to match and I feel elegant, not like I do in Western clothing.Did I mention how comfortable they are? :)
    I agree with you that every woman should wear one at least once.

    So, yes, I do rock the saree!
    Liz

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    1. Hi Liz,
      I'm so happy you love them! I'm sure you look amazing! Aren't they fantastic? So body flattering, comfortable...love love love!
      If I ever go to Heaven, I hope it'll only be in a silk saree!!! ;)

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    2. I would love my wife to wear one, I think they are bright beautiful and very elegant, I have never seen a woman that did not look wonderful in a Sari.

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  2. I am a true believer in a global world - whether it is food or clothing....I like it when things are traveling across borders:-) So, yes- I think women should wear what they love to wear! You look amazing on those pictures by the way, Alexandra. Big hugs:-)

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    1. Thanks so much & Very well said, Eli....We cannot enjoy all that the world has to offer if we are limited to only one culture. Everybody should be like a mosaic of their travels and tastes :)

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  3. Most Hindus of UK did appreciate her efforts mostly English right-wing media was critical of her saying she wore the saree to get the votes of Hindus

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    1. Yes, that is what I thought, the temple people said they greatly appreciated her effort - ""The fact that Mrs Cameron made such a huge effort to dress as per Hindu customs most definitely shows how much she values our culture, religion and traditions."
      I wonder if all this nonsense of criticizing her dress has some political crap behind it....it was diwali after all, she has to wear saree!

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  4. What one wears is a personal choice and should not be commented upon--even if it annoys local sensitivities.It is up to the wearer to see that he or she does not stand out like a sore thumb;but when someone is trying to blend in it deserves applaud.

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  5. You look lovely in Saree. If Indians can wear western outfits, while looking the most unfit/ugly/"dowdy", whats wrong with a NRI wearing a saree? One is free to choose what to wear..Ignore what others say. A great post this was!

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    1. Thank you so much! I agree....
      As you can see I am a saree addict :)

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    2. I appriciate your artical but do mind i have complaint that by aticale u seems very inteligent but i in your artical u have mentioned so many things like, dowry system and other bad ritual and i gess bleming all mens for these things, i would like to inform u that neither our hinduism nor our culture tell that to do such things and criticize someone just becasue of colour. I realy felling ashamed on behalf of All indian just because of a stupid man...but i realy suggest u that ignore such person no matter from where the belongs because such people want controversy only and without knowledge they want to highlight themselves and if we are thingking about scuh people that means they are succesfull in their goal...so once again thank u for ur artical and love for indian saree

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    3. @shubham - thank you, yes I agree, I wasn't sure if I should even write to further highlight those stupid articles but I just was so pissed I had to speak out. I didn't want other girls to be scared of wearing the saree if they saw that bad article. I hope I can encourage more women to wear the saree, it is just my favorite thing to wear! Jai Hind!!!

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    4. Although I agree with your views, but it is quite offensive to deem a person "stupid" or "mad" just because he holds views that are in conflict with yours. You talk of freedom and fashion- as a expression, then one must be "open" to all views.

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    5. @ anonymous - I did not call the person stupid, I called the article stupid, because it was in my opinion. I can't believe a newspaper would even publish that.

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  6. It has to do with this new culture of "social justice" and a fear of "cultural aproppriation". Basically a bunch of privileged white people telling other people what to do. Have you heard of the furor surrounding Selena Gomez's decision to wear a bindi? People started complaining that a bindi was a hindu symbol which non-hindus should not wear. I am certainly not thinkinhg about the significance of the bindi when i put it on for festivals, but if white people (and NRI americans) say it is singificant, of course I must follow them.

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    1. Yes, I remember the outrage regarding Selena, I didn't think it was a big deal at all. I think I read that Selena was inspired and influenced by Indian culture on her new album, Indian music, drums etc.
      The funny thing is that Khloe Kardashian also has worn a bindi, but has expressed no interest in Indian culture at all...yet nobody goes after her! It is strange...
      As a foreigner I wear bindi to the temple or festivals etc as a sign of respect, it is a way of honoring Hinduism for me. I also like the symbolism behind it.

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    2. In this case I do not think it was a fear of cultural appropriation but instead a supercilious "How dare the PM's wife 'go native' - more postcolonial racism and thinking that an English woman should dress like an English woman and not like "One Of Them." The racism emanating from that article was so potent I could smell it from here.

      I do think that as a white person, we should be culturally aware and not just grab pretty things and use them however we like. Not everything's for us all the time, and context is important. But in this case I think that she was incredibly respectful, the saree was appropriate for the occasion, and she looked wonderful in it. The backlash seems to be more from white people who feel weird seeing "one of us" in "their clothing."

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    3. Rajan Zed a publicity seeking Hindu guy based in north America who calls himself religious statesman - raised this issue of salena & bindi. & he is given too much space in western media. most consider him a idiot

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    4. I have been studying Sanskrit for 8 years with someone in Delhi and he tells me bindis are largely worn for nothing more than jewelry now. But the origin is a spiritual idea that does not belong to anyone. I used to wear them and sometimes took them to parties for others as well. It's fun and pretty... and spiritual for those of that ilk.

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  7. Wearing what you want is something which needs to be agreed upon, and Indian males in particular feel that they can not give that kind of freedom to the women. And those women can be Indian or not, they seem to have the forever right to make statements and state their expectations! I wish there was a mas re-wiring option, would certainly make India a much better place to be! I really do love my country, except for many people who inhabit it.

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    1. I totally agree - especially the second article, which is written by a man - he thinks he has a right to comment on what women are wearing - it is ridiculous!
      I have noticed in India too, there is so much commenting on what the women are doing, wearing, cooking, etc. and no questioning at all of men. As a foreigner I feel there are a lot of gender inequalities. Whenever a comment leaves the tip of a tongue it's always about a woman.
      I love India too...but the inequalities, and lack of empathy for people outside the family, bothers me a lot.

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    2. @Alexandra, many western women are vrey tall and skinny, which make them look slightly akward in a sari because, sari which is essentialy a wrap, needs certain amount of girth around the waist to look good.

      Those foreign women with hair other than black- blond, red etc., often look strange wearing a sari because especially golden hair and brigth skin combined with brightness of the saris, often produce a visually jarring effect. It is not about racism but I sometimes felt like that. Apart from these two occasion, they look fabulous in saris. BTW, you look amazing in sari.

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    3. @anonymous - yes, we are typically taller than Indian women, but not skinny (at least not in North America, as 72 percent of women in the US wear size 12 and above - typically Europeans are the skinnier ones!)
      I think saree looks really good if a woman has a wider hip. But what about all those skinny Indian ladies, they look great in saree too!
      I agree, I think brighter saree colors look good on a Western woman with darker hair, and it is hard to find a saree that is not colorful.
      Thanks so much! I feel very comfortable in saree, I wish I could wear it more often!

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    4. Indian actors e.g. Karina Kap,Kat Kaif,Dip Pad are also tall well beyond 165cms,all look fab.Regarding light hair colours,one can choose appropriate colour of sari...If interested pl observe photoes of Brazilian models for sari on internet.

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    5. I disagree regarding color. I see pale older Indian women with white hair. Color looks even better on washed-out people!!!

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  8. Agreed. Western women look amazing in Indian attire. It's like any piece of clothing, if you wear it with pride and confidence it shows. Since been married to an Indian I have learnt to add the makeup and the jewellery with it too! One mistake I have made so many times is going out looking 'bare'. As in without enough makeup or even forget to wear my earrings!!
    Indian males get away with wearing just about anything..sometimes it bothers me that the women must always look their best and are always looked up and down what they wear and how much jewellery they have on....

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    1. I totally agree, you can wear anything with confidence - it really shines through.
      OMG one time at my SIL's baby naming ceremony, I didn't wear a necklace (because I thought the pallu was so decorative) and I never heard the end of it! One auntie took off her necklace and put it on me out of pity...LOL!
      So much we have to accessorize - all that, and we have to remember our purses too! No wonder women have such razor-sharp memories! We have to remember so much just to get dressed! Guys get off easy....

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    2. In India, it is believed that if a women goes out without ornaments, it is inauspicious. One chain, or a simple bangles must be there. It is connected with the well being of the husband. In India we kind of celebrate the married status of women. Otherwise, we are so used to seeing Indian women in beautiful saris, salwar kameez and ornaments that a women without ornaments, that it hits our eyes.

      In a sari shop, I am often dazzled by the mind boggling variety of saris. Silk saris, cotton saris, synthetic saris, mixed fabric saris. Women actually understand and remember fabrics, textures and designs of each of them. They have a particular thing in mind and patiently search for them. They same goes for designs of ornaments. Men have a hard time remembering what they wore yesterday.

      Indian women have actually incorporated western fashions with Indian clothes since early 1940s. In 1960s & 70s bollywood heroines actually mixed western influences with Indian clothes and created a new fashion which was religiously followed by all women in India.

      http://zeenews.india.com/entertainment/slideshow/bollywood-s-famous-fashion-trends_254.html

      BTW, have you tried bengali and oriya cotton saris.

      http://www.wiseshe.com/2011/02/21-best-bengali-sarees-design.html

      http://www.unnatisilks.com/sarees-online/by-indian-states-sarees/sarees-from-orissa.html

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    3. @anonymous -
      I like the Indian ladies style of accessorizing, but it sure is a lot of work! I am likewise amazed in saree shops at all the patterns and designs - at all are so well-made and crafted, absolute works of art! I just go crazy in Wedding Malls especially - they have everything!
      I usually like to get sarees from the places I visit in India, but have not got any Bengali or Oriya ones because I had not been in that area yet.
      Thanks for the links, loved the Zeenews slideshow!

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    4. @Alexandra

      These ladies were the bollywood of my times. Each of them were fabulously beautiful and stylish. Today, every hero or heroine look the same, wear the same clothes. Today actors actually lack the style of these stars. BTW are you interested in old bollywood songs:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRk9pG5Upe4

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq_vWD4lTcw

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpM0jPd6-7w

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EofAlMh2Huo

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfNS3mkyHmA

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt4QQMj6-mg

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    5. @anonymous - lovely, thank you! fascinating!

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    6. @alexandra

      Here are few of my favorite songs, not just great songs but high quality hindi/urdu poetry. You don't get these these days.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTRmexUJqWo

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEwrLaCYQkg

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Au_J6jHKE0

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIiHAKDfksk

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgaNBJ2pQOs

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa9Yq9jYuDE

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMuRRXCuy-4



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  9. by the way, forgot to add you're rockin the saree, blue one is my fav ;-)
    (I only wear Anarkalis suits, not sarees. Unfortunately I have not been blessed with a curvy body!)

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    1. Thanks so much! I wanted to get an anarkali last time, but the ready-made ones didn't fit my frame properly. Do you get yours made at the tailor?

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    2. Hi Alexandra

      You can try sareez.com. They have a huge collection of anarkali salwar kameez. They can even stitch that for you according to your measurements.

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    3. I buy the ready made ones and then get them altered. However, Biba has my size ( I am very petite) and I don;t need to alter them.

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  10. Good points. I wear saris, and I'm Aussie, lived in India 13 yrs....my point is, when in Rome do as the Romans do and secondly, who the hell WOULDN'T want to wear 6m of silk and look absolutely GORGEOUS?!!

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    1. Thanks for reading! Your blog is one of my absolute faves :)
      And EXACTLY! Well said!!!! 6m of silk=goddess!

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    2. I wear them to fit in at my temple. Going in western dress, no matter how modest and nice, screams "tourist" and not serious devout Hindu!

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  11. WELL SAID! I was offended when I read that article, and I have yet to wear a sari. It's just very close minded.
    I laughed really hard at the "She had better eat cereal for breakfast" comment. lol :)
    By the way, you look lovely in a sari.

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    1. I agree, it is absolutely close-minded and hypocritical and ignorant!!! Like, we can wear your jeans but you can't wear our sarees -type of bullshit! People can wear whatever the hell they want...lol!
      Thank you for the compliment :)

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  12. Saris may be very pretty and make the people who wear them feel good about themselves, but the hard truth is, that's not the point! Saris hold ancient cultural connotations and meaning to the people who wear them; they were designed to make women and girls comfortable in the heat and also to cover their bodies. Many Indian women who move to the West reject them because they are seen as anti-feminist and oppressive. Christians don't like crosses being used as superficial decorations; similarly, as an Indian American woman, I don't like it when people wear Indian clothes and bindis like they're part of some sort of dress-up game. Can't white women take inspiration from the bright colors and cuts of Indian fabric without making a mockery of their heritage?

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    1. How offensive and small-minded of you. Seriously, get a grip. Westerners can wear whatever they want, Indians can wear whatever they want - it's none of YOUR business of what other people choose to wear.
      Did you ever think that Western women ALSO wear sarees for the exact SAME reason that Indians do - that is it comfortable, and that it covers our bodies? To equate any women who is non-Indian to superficiality is ridiculous. When Indian women reject sarees and opt for jeans, is that not for superficial reasons?
      If you have a problem with what other people are wearing, then that's YOUR PROBLEM. Grow up and figure out what your inferiority complex is about people "mocking the saree". Nobody can "mock" the saree. The saree is highly respected in the Western community.

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    2. of course it is SEXIST (and yes, WOMEN CAN BE SEXIST TO OTHER WOMEN) to say that Western women should not wear saris. I have NEVER heard anyone say that Western men should not wear vestis/dhotis/lungis in India! I just finished my 8th trip to India and have yet to even try on a sari....:(.... but I know I would ROCK one!

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    3. Also, as a white woman, I could easily say the same thing about you. Jeans and T-shirts are our clothing. You should not be able to wear them? Doesn't even make any sense!

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    4. I am totally flabbergasted after reading this post. The fact that a group of white women are asserting their "right" to wear Indian clothing is not only appalling but downright offensive. And to have the writer lambast an actual Indian American for simply expressing her opinion is nothing short of uncouth.

      Do any of you Caucasian women ever pause to reflect on the impact of imperialism and colonialism on India and its people? The subjugation and scrutinization of the Indian by the Westerner is still present today - and clearly on this blog.

      After India's independence from Great Britain, the sari rose to become an emblem of national unity and identity, an aspiration to live up to the ideal of India and to show loyalty to the nation. So with respect to that, yes, you as a white woman wearing the sari is most definitely making a mockery of all that it stands for. It is the equivalent of you wearing a dashiki - a symbol of the 1960s cultural and political struggles of the black people. How many Caucasians do you know who wear it? Not too many, I suspect.

      Indians, our clothing, our jewelry, our customs and traditions do not exist for your amusement. We are not "exotic"... we are not here for you to mimic or "ooh and aah" with your friends over. What, then, separates you from the imperialists? You have insensitively dedicated an entire blog to your fascination with our culture rather than respecting it and humbly experiencing it. Please spare me the BS that "the saree is highly respected in the Western community" - not a single one of you even knew what it symbolized.

      You all never fail to remind me that entitlement, narcissism and small-mindedness is the Western way.

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    5. @anonymous a.k.a "ABCD saree police" -
      You're not going to scare me into dressing a certain way - I wear what I want to wear and I always will and that's not going to be dictated by my skin color. Please continue to be offended by how good I look, and how proud I look wearing the saree.
      It took me SEVEN years how to learn how to tie the saree and get the pleats correctly, unassisted. I treat my sarees like gold, I store them, I iron them, I wear them all the time including on Republic Day, where I got endless numbers of compliments on how well it suited me and how I carried it. I even have taught several Indian American women how to tie it. I personally feel that you are just jealous because you're probably struggling with your pleats, you poor thing.
      My blog is about MY LIFE and our family, of course I don't expect you to know that since you've only read two posts (yes, you're being tracked).
      I'm not even going to address the rest of your hateful comment because it is so blatantly racist and disgusting. You can't blame every Westerner for colonization when many had no part in it. Not every Westerner is British, you know.
      Just for your information, referring to a particular group of people by their skin color as "you all" or "you people" is so f*ing ignorant.
      There is no room for racism on my blog. Kindly piss off and stop trolling and googling "western women wearing the saree".

      ADMIN note: this user is now banned.

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    6. I do hope more people will wear sari and then they will no longer be seen as anti-feminist or oppressive. The more people who wear them, the less that connotation can stick to them.

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    7. I've recently started wearing the pans,with a western blouse.I agree comfortable and feminine. I'm from small town in Midwest.Apprehensive,concerned that it may be seen as insulting to someone from the East,I stopped wearing for a while.Now that I've done some research like reading these blogs,I'm bringing them out to wear again.than..

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  13. What a crock...Sonia Gandhi is an Indian citizen of Italian origin and is STILL criticized for wearing a saree.

    Personally, I study textiles and collect handloom sarees. There is a great need to keep these beautiful treasures alive and many of the regional handlooms are making a revival thanks to government n NGO support.

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    1. I agree....I wonder if many of the haters look at us like a sort of "Sonia Gandhi syndrome"....
      The saree will never go out of fashion, it is just too wonderful. I can't wait to teach my daughter one day, all my silk sarees will be hers...

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  14. When I was travelling in the North, maybe Jaipur Fort, there was a group of 20 - 30 Chinese (at least far-East Asians) females. They were ALL dressed in sarees or salwar kamiz. That was quite fun to see, and you can't believe how many Indians were posing with them for pictures.
    I attended a close friend's wedding in Morrocco recently, the bride and the groom were Morroccan, as well as 90% of the people invited. My friend had suggested we 'Westeners' also wear traditional kaftans for the party. Most of my friends did. For me, none was my size, so I didn't.

    By the way : there are some of my Indian dresses or short kurtas, that I even wear in office in the Netherlands. Because they look good. Noone gives me comments. I haven't yet dared walking in town here with the shiny purple trousers, but maybe one day :)

    I just think that article is very stupid.
    1) I understand some people may be upset because this action was performed by the wife of a politician ; they always have something in the back of their mind... So maybe, they are mimicking the culture.
    BUT from scepticism to generalising it to millions or billions of Westeners, is going really too far.
    2) I am pretty sure they would be a similar article if she had NOT worn a saree. The same way people also comment when we wear Western clothes in India. "Ms Cameron entered sacred mandir wearing Westen clothes. This behaviour shows that the West still thinks they prevail over Indian culture and brought back the reminiscence of colonialism."

    Check the pictures of this article : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2063352/Barack-Obamas-lukewarm-reaction-wearing-traditional-Indonesian-Batik-shirt-visit-southeast-Asia.html
    Were President Obama and PM Singh critized for wearing Indonesian traditional clothing ?

    AJ

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    1. I totally agree - on one end we are told to adapt and wear Indian clothes in India so as to avoid harassment, and also because Indians who are born and raised in India feel proud when they see us wearing their clothes - we are encouraged to - jaisa desh waisa bhes.
      It is a far cry from these NRI Indians who have limited knowledge of India themselves, saying that when we wear Indian attire we are "mocking" the culture, when many of us (such as yourself and I) wear Indian clothes more often than NRIs themselves!
      I totally agree, she would have been absolutely criticized for NOT wearing the saree and wearing "inappropriate Western clothes" that are "too revealing" at the temple...LOL. Maybe next year she will and we will see the commentary on that one!
      The article was interesting. Especially considering that Obama has lived in Indonesia during his childhood and his step-father was Indonesian. His sister is also half-Indonesian. They are not nearly even 1% as critical of him as they were of Samantha Cameron...probably because he is a man!!!

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  15. I'm so glad you wrote this article. I think that while it was very genuine in its emotion, it was also very ignorant and offensive. As an African American female married to a Bengali man I already own a couple saris and plan to own more. similar to the way white people wear kente cloth or dashikis I can see why one might find it offensive. Or more closely related to my own life experience, when you see "wiggers". At the end of the day it's a compliment and an outward display of respect and should be taken as such. furthermore, if that is what someone is drawn to and they are happy and they arent hurting you, what's the problem? also, I think its a generational thing. He was older man and probably more sensitive to that issue, just like older black people. Whereas the newer generations, more familiar with our ever-growing globalized culture, are unflustered. what really ticks me off about the article was how he commented on if he ever saw a Western woman in one. I thought to myself, he better hope its not me! Because I'd be damned if I let a complete stranger criticize my clothing(especially when i know im lookin good!). Its like, I'm sorry are you the saree police? Did you pay for this? Um no so keep it movin and I didn't ask you. seriously, that guy may have his opinions but he needs to remember that hes dealing with Western women and we will gladly give him the business. Criticizing a complete strangers attire is completely disrespectful and ignorant. Then, the portion about accepting all or nothing of the culture? Hogwash! American culture itself is the art of taking the good leaving out the bad and making something new. as I was reading the article at that point I thought maybe this guy needs to leave New York and go back to his home country. why would anyone in their right mind intentionally incorporate negative aspects of their culture or community or family traits or... anything!? Our goals as people, mammals... hell even organisms is to expand upon the good of the previous generation and reduce the bad. that portion of his argument was just plain asinine. oh, and in regards to that poster
    You banned from the website? Kudos to you. Definitely some inferiority complex going on there.not saying that is without merit but as people of color/colonized countries, enslaved etc., we have to move out of that mindset and move into a mindset of love. & I believe once you do that you wouldn't care if Western women wear a saree. or at least not assume that she's some superficial biotch trivializing your heritage. Like I said, a very negative outlook and assumption. when you are judging a complete strangers' actions without knowing any of thier motives, your conclusions soley reflect your mindset. And that poster was definitely negative, with an inferiority complex. I don't know about anyone else here, but I have definitely got the sideways glances from Middle Eastern women when they see me and my husband together. I know it's because they're jealous because my husband is literally gorgeous, seriously he could be a model. so yeah, sometimes it's like don't be mad because he's with me boo boo, lol. I look at it like this: sarees are beautiful, I'm beautiful, so of course we go together! Beauty, just like love, knows no boundaries.when I insisted on wearing a saree to one of my husbands relatives wedding event, my husband asked me if I was trying to make a point- That as a Western woman I can look just as good in a sari? And I said, YEP. I wanna go to that wedding and STUNT on these hoes lol. in all seriousness, I do think that there is a time and a place for everything, including the saree. But to say that ALL Western women should not wear it at all is absurd. granted, only certain colors look good on certain conplexions- but that goes for any and all tyoes of garment. You just have to find what looks good on you. which is what you have to do anyway. Lol.

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    1. Very very well said....I agree completely...thanks for writing your valuable perspective & reading! I bet you look AMAZING in a saree...would love to see!
      It takes a confident woman to wear a saree, and you and I definitely fit that bill ;) Haters will hate, what to do? :D

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  16. Hi Alexandra! Thank you for sharing your family's story with us and also your opinion on Mr. Ghosh's article. I have always loved textiles and I first loved saris while living (oddly enough) in Japan! My wonderful friend Baba-ji runs a restaurant there and throws parties for his customers where he and his wife dress them in saris, dhotis, etc. He loves sharing his culture with non-Indians and told me that if I ever went to India I should try to wear saris and salwar kameez to (as you said) do as the Romans do. I followed this advice in Thailand, wearing pha nung skirts and modest tops (also perfect for the weather there!). The women complimented my efforts, explaining how they appreciated a Westerner dressing nicely for temple visits. My friend received a similar reaction in India when she wore saris, so it made me excited for visiting myself! Stories like yours and Melinda's (of sarisafari) buoyed me as well! But when I went to do more research on women being properly attired when traveling to India, I found Mr. Ghosh's article discouraging...until I read that he included the Japanese kimono in his rant, which indicates to me that his opinion is one I will ignore.
    I lived in Japan for four years and my Japanese aunt will be the first of many to tell you there is nothing wrong with Western women wearing kimono or yukata (the light summer version). Japanese aunties and grandmas told me it made them very happy to see Westerners not trying to be ninja or samurai but trying to dress like real Japanese people and accepting their assistance in wearing traditional clothing. (like you mentioning how much effort you took to learn to dress properly, it takes great study to wear kimono too!) Local grandmas said modern times have been discouraging in that their daughters and grand-daughters no longer knew how to wear even a simple ensemble for festival time; as if their culture was disappearing. But when younger girls saw me wearing yukata and kimono, they were surprised and excited to talk with me. Ladies I had never met would ask who dressed me, only to discover that I had dressed myself! At Japanese festivals in the States, there are always booths for dressing people in traditional clothing because they want to share something beautiful from their culture. Mr. Ghosh should have done his research about Japanese culture before including it in his argument.
    Dressing people in clothes from other cultures helps them to have a more open mind, especially children, who learn best with hands-on experiences. For example, at our local Diwali festival the ladies showed the children how to wear traditional clothes. One of the boys had very Western ideas of how boys and girls should dress, was shy about wearing dhoti or lungi because he thought of them as "dresses". The coordinator, Mr. Pandey, overheard this and came over, asking the boy's father if he wanted to try on a dhoti. The father, understanding this to be a teaching moment, answered with a big "Yes please!" When he was dressed he showed his son and said, "Look, I am wearing a dhoti, but am I a girl?" The boy thought for a moment and answered, "No, you're a boy. So, does that mean I get to wear one too?" Mr. Pandey said, "Of course!" By trying on traditional clothes and literally walking in someone else's shoes, kids can understand that clothes aren't "weird" they are simply different. But telling people they cannot wear traditional clothes (even if they wear them properly and respectfully) just puts them off from trying to understand that culture, which does not promote the cultural awareness Mr. Ghosh claims to support.
    Thank you again, Alexandra, for your blog and your Facebook page! You look stunning in saris and if ever you visit Japan, you have to get yourself a kimono or yukata and rock it!


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    1. Amazing reply, thank you for sharing this wonderful story! I totally agree, it promotes cultural awareness and that is only a good thing. We should all be mixing as much as possible, have as much diverse interests as possible...

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  17. I am an African American who loves to wear a sari. I also own 12 salwar kameez, and when I wear them I often receive compliments. The fabrics for the sari are often so very beautiful!

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    1. Love it! I bet you look amazing :) I agree, Indian fabrics are just the best, they are so high quality and like pieces of art!

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  18. Hi Alexandra, I love love love this article, seeing as when I typed "white people wearing sarees?" into google, the article you were referencing came up, and totally put me off the option of wearing it. That being said, I'm going to India in October for a wedding, and I still have my reservations about being able to wear a sari without feeling as though I'm somehow offending or belittling Indian culture, if that makes any sense?? I love your site, thanks so much for this page!!

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    1. You'll look fantastic, and moreover Indians will expect you to wear it. Indians who are FROM India always appreciate foreigner's wearing the saree. Purchase one there and get it stitched for the next day. And don't forget to wear a necklace! Bling it up! ;)

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    2. I realize this is old and you're long past the wedding, but for those who may be reading this in the future, definitely wear the sari. I'm an American living in India (also married to an Indian) and Indians get so excited when you wear saris to weddings. It compliments them on their culture.

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  19. Superb reply to racial exclusivists:)... Anyway, I am a Malaysian of Chinese descent and being a melting pot here in Malaysia, there is a big indian-hindu population. I also wore Indian garb a few times when taking part in hindu tempe ceremonies but being a guy, it was the dhoti/veshti for me. It was very nice:)

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    1. I love the dhoti, I think it is very elegant! Also comfortable too...recently my husband wore one for Tamil Puthandu.

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  20. wow very amazing look all pic in saree

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  21. This is a wonderful article! Ive always had a great respect towards the Indian culture ( im white/ native American) and always loved saris but never thought it would be ok for me to wear one. I just might now!

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    1. You absolutely should! It is a dress that everyone should wear at least once in their life!

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  22. you look great ! they all were nice but the blue an red one looked were the prettiest on you ^_^ oh yes and your wedding one :).
    I appreciate the fact that she wore a saree...and she still looked nice (even if it wasnt her ideal colour). The irony is that the the racism came from her own kind, I mean really now?

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    1. Thank you :)
      And exactly! A lot of it came from "white people" talking about "cultural appropriation" just because they feel strange wearing something other than jeans, which is their own cultural shortcoming. Such people are missing out on all the beautiful things that global fashion has to offer.

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  23. I've ALWAYS loved Sarees but I've always been afraid to wear one for fear of insulting anyone. I finally decided to do a quick google search to find some different opinions and the first article I came across was Mr. Ghosh's. After reading it, I was embarrassed, humiliated, and mortified that I'd ever even thought of wearing one. Quite honestly, I was almost in tears as I watched my dreams of wearing one slip away. I figured I'd read one more article and came across yours. I never read the authors names so I had no idea the first article was written by a man, but once you pointed that out a few things clicked, including the callous remarks of women being "bothered" because of how they dress. The more I read what you'd written the more I realized you are correct. I never get offended when I see non Scotts wearing my family kilt, I don't get offended when I see non Natives wearing my Native South American clothing, would anyone really be offended if I wore a Saree? Needless to say I will not let some old man make me feel awful about wanting to embrace another culture. If a group of Indian WOMEN were to ask me to remove it, that would be another matter. Funny thing is though, all the Indian women I know are kind and seem more likely to help one put it on, rather than be offended.

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  24. If Indian women can wear "western clothes", why can't "foreigners" wear a saree? I believe that everyone should have the right to wear what they want. Although, you might want to keep out of temples and mosques unless you have someone to guide you. You might end up wearing something that could be considered "inappropriate". People tend to be touchy about religion. Having said that, I have never seen "foreigners" telling Indian women to stop wearing "western clothes". So, I don't think Indians should tell "foreigners" what they should or should not wear.

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  25. Thank you so much for writing this article! I'm a 23 yr old woman in Colorado and for as long as I can remember I've enjoyed many elements of the Indian culture, henna tattoos, Bollywood, and the clothing to name a few. So when I saw that an India fashion expo was coming to town next month, I quickly RSVP'd. I've always wanted a Saree. Or at least try one on. But then I second guessed myself. I recently read an article about a 12 year old Caucasian girl getting ridiculed on twitter for wearing a "black hairstyle." She was accused of being racist and cultural appropriation all for appreciating the beauty of a hairstyle and wanting to try it for herself. *eye roll* As a black woman myself I was disappointed and felt bad for her. I saw myself. By seeing the beauty in another culture's clothing or style, am I offending them by trying it for myself when I just want to appreciate it too? So my point is, thank you for taking the time to write this. I'm definitely going to the expo now and feel better about my decision. And if I find something, I just may share a pic with you! Thank you again!

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    1. Thank you! Have fun! I am glad! Culture should be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what! Art, dance, fashion...everything!

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    2. http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/cultural-appropriation-wrong/

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    3. @anonymous - doesn't really apply to Firangi Bahu's. We are not only encouraged to wear Indian attire, but berated if we don't, by our Indian families.

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  26. I think it is great that women want to try wearing a Sari ( western or otherwise ) and good job for speaking your mind too ! I would only ever have a complaint when some big multinational decides to patent it and then everyone in the world has to pay to wear one , you see it happening with so many things it's scary ....
    Long time ago when I started teaching at my school in Australia and experienced a twinge of racism from one of my teenage student all my colleagues wore a sari ( happily provided by me ) to show solidarity with me . The next day onwards I was the most popular teacher and every girl at school wanted to wear a sari and be in my class. They all are white Caucasian Aussie ladies and they all looked gorgeous in saris !

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    1. That is amazing and so heart-warming to hear! I would be the first to join you :)

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  27. U look beautiful in sarees and as I can see u carry it off with grace n elegance :)


    AnanyaTales

    Facebook

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  28. Sonia Gandhi wears sari all the time, nobody says a thing. She becomes it, just like Alexandra.
    Wearing dress from a different culture for the first time of course makes one look not so comfortable, still its a symbol of reaching out in friendship, gotta respect that

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  29. I'm a white woman married to an Indian and he loves it when I wear sarees. I like wearing sarees myself as I find them very feminine and elegant and seeing his face light up every time I wear one, I've started wearing sarees daily. Most of the feedback I get from Indians is very positive especially the older generation and they usually break into a friendly smile when they see me wearing traditional clothes. However, I frequently find myself the only one wearing a saree among dinners and gatherings with Indian women my age, as many of them don't know how to wear sarees and have adopted western clothing, but if I don't care if they wear western clothing why would they care if I wear Indian. Often times their husbands will jokingly ask me to teach their wives how to wear one. The only annoying outcome that I've really experienced is that I frequently get asked if I tied the saree myself and how did I learn, which seems like an innocent question, but gets very old after a while. I get several compliments from Americans as well. The key is to wear it with confidence and not feel self-conscious.

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  30. am not a girl to comment about sari..my name is rahul and am a 20 year old boy who lived in INDIA, KERALA.i love womens wearing sarees , not only indians but alsio foreigners.Because its the world's best dress to show her beauty to the world.my mom always wear saree.we can make any dress looking bad to us and also looking good to as.i see so many girls wear saree to expose their ******.i dont like that type girls.wear the saree if u like.dont bother about others and their comments.

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  31. Hello there! The two articles you mentioned is actually what brought me here. I had read them and was looking for articles that discussed those particular sentiments. I am very glad that you took it upon yourself to address the negative sentiments and express you opposing views.

    I am a Bangladeshi American with relatives in both India and Bangladesh. To me a saree is a beautiful dress with so much history and value. Not every person of Indian decent or other Asian decent are always well versed in the history of their traditional garments. For many it is simply a form of apparel. No matter if ones knows or understands the history or not, the beauty of the garment is a simple fact that all can appreciate.

    So, I say dress because you love the outfit, dress if you want to for a particular affair or event, dress because you find the culture appealing or just dress for fun. There is nothing preventing anyone of any culture from enjoying an outfit that pleases them.

    That said the only thing I'd add as a tip to everyone: when choosing to wear a ethnic outfit make sure you know the proper way of wearing them so that you can look your best. Make sure the color and fabric suit you, make certain you choose formal fabrics for formal occasions and casual fabrics for simple events. The author of this article, Alexandra is a fine example for all to follow. She wears the saree with ease, poise, grace, and style.

    I myself having grown up in USA am not as experienced in wearing the saree so I can appreciate the dedication and effort that someone puts into wearing one. For those new to sarees don't fear you get more comfortable with time and practice. I've got a lot better since the first time I wore one. Be patient with yourself. For anyone who doesn't have help to learn you can buy ready stitched sarees that have the pleated already stitched so you can practice wearing and walking in them before venturing into pleating on your own. No matter what just be confident in being a women and showing that confidence will help anyone pull off a saree.

    I for one appreciate my friends who show interest in my cultural garments. I am hoping that when I get married that my non Bengali friends will want to dress in sarees or salwar kameez to join in the festive feel of the occasion. So, the answer to anyone going to Indian weddings or Bengali weddings, yes yes please feel free to dress up in sarees if you want to. Your friends and their family will be delighted.
    And a big resounding Yes, Western women and for that matter all women can wear the Saree if they so desire. Alexandra, you look absolutely beautiful in your sarees. My compliments:) Saba.

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  32. I know you wrote this year ago, but I also found this article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/virginia-moncrieff/when-in-india-please-dont_b_203289.html
    about a woman's experience wearing Indian clothes in India and getting guff for it. And she'd been to various other countries and been encouraged to 'fit in' basically. But in India she was made to feel as though she was "foolish looking".
    I live in Arizona and it's HOTTTT. I want to wear a saree. Not only am I big so I look ridiculous in western clothes anyways and sarees would probably make me look nice, but I would also like to wear something that doesn't suck in the summer.
    I live in a place where Indian cultured things are available, I can go into a shop and purchase a saree no problem, but I would be afraid to wear it because... well, people are jerks!
    Clothes are clothes, but everyone seems to make it a "race" thing. The world is a lot smaller place now, everyone has access to food and clothes of other cultures, but we're basically taught that you're "not allowed" if you're of a different culture because it's offensive somehow? Instead of "oh that person really likes this culture, that's cool."
    It's like, what does that white person think they're doing.

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  33. Ohh woow all are looking so pretty in Indian Sarees. Such a nice blog and views has been shared here with us.

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  34. I am so so happy to read this!!! Thank you for your candor and for expressing what I think a lot of us feel. Love you and hope to read more from you.

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  35. You look truly awesome in a saree. The saree is the most beautiful garment that a women can adore. I guess Ms Cameroon would have been shunned by the right wing in the UK. She was just adorable.

    Post my marriage, I have been wearing it for the last 5 years now (almost daily) and wish I could have been used to it earlier as well. Though I feel bad that women these days are just shunning it in the big cities. Initially I was a bit skeptic, my college female friends used to speak against it, but slowly I just got used to it and feel comfortable in it as well.

    Thanks for this article by the way. :)

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  36. I love to see women in Saree's, my wife also think they are lovely but, unfortunately she said being English and not Indian she would not dare wear one...such a shame.

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  37. I took bharatanatyam classes for 5 years(I'm white), and during that time I learned a lot about the symbolism of different parts of traditional Indian dress. Personally, I never felt uncomfortable wearing saree, salwar, or out performance clothing. But I always felt uncomfortable wearing a bindi (even for performances where it was mandatory for the sake of everyone looking similar) because it's a religious symbol and I'm not Hindu.

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  38. I know that your article was posted quite some time ago now but I was just considering this very question and of course I turned to the obvious place for an answer: the internet. I saw all these negative articles about how Western women shouldn't wear a saree and while I wouldn't call myself an outspoken feminist, most of them seemed to be written by men and I was rather offended. I have no intentions of offending anyone, I really just appreciate how beautiful, elegant, and amazing anyone and everyone looks in a saree! Yourself included by the way. I sincerely believe that flattery is the highest form of adoration and I'm so happy to see that others feel the same.

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  39. I love love love this article. I am actually considering filling my wardrobe with saree's. I am a big girl, 220lbs... but I also had a baby girl 5 months ago. I am very self conscious of my weight and often feel like I'm a disappointment when I walk beside my mam out in public.... though he doesn't agree with it (it's just my self image issue) I used to be beautiful and shapely yet fit with perfect skin and long brown curls. I've lost my spunk and don't have the time to get all prettied up by deciding what shirt hours with what shorts (which is all I really have because I'm poor)
    I believe sarees are beautiful and the colors can be mixed and matched. They're sexy on all skin tones and body types. AND they're wallet friendly.

    They're definitely eye catching, elegant, and enough to bring back the fire in this new mom. I just want my daughter to grow up and see that it's okay to express household however you want (within reason)
    And to always keep her head up

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    1. Oh you are so right! Saree's are elegant and hide a multitude of sins! And a woman should wear what she wants (like you, within reason). I love period (era) styles. So feminine looking. I say if you don't like what I'm wearing stop staring!

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  40. I loved your post! I have been watching a show called "Indian Summers", a short run drama from BBC 4. I absolutely love seeing the saree's! They are so beautiful! Full of bright colors! And it hides a multitude of sins! I came looking to the internet, as well, to see if Western (white) women could wear them. I think if I had the money, I might try and find one, even if it's just to wear at home. I'm 5'4" and 270lbs. so yeah, they would hide my "sins"! lol

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  41. Hi and thanks for posting this article. I'm spending extended time in India at the moment with my family. Delighted to be here, we all four went out and bought traditional dress and took family photos out and about and the locals had only good things to say. Every time I pull out my sari the locals have been delighted to help me put it on, even though I can do it myself now. It tickles them and they're always very admiring. We've had so many people taking photos of us it's like being papparazzied. Hubby looks terrific in his red embroidered wedding coat. Teenager scrubs up well in his kurta, and the six year old is just plain cute in her dress. I am a tall, skinny, fair bird, and feel feminine, graceful and elegant in my red Mysore silk sari with black and gold edging. There have been only smiles, inclusion and encouragement from the onlookers. Forget about the grumblebums making everything a misery. Not necessary. India is crazy and colourful and diverse enough to easily absorb a few westerners donning local garb. Inspired, I've just bought four salwar kameez to wear everywhere in the future. I have nothing but positive things to say about the experience.

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  42. Thank you for standing up for our rights. I find western clothing unfeminine and uncomfortable. I never even knew this was a conversation. I've been wearing salwar kameez for the past 20 years here in Michigan and hope to get my first saree this summer. We have every right to wear beautiful clothing. And this is also nicely modest too, which not very common in the West.

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  43. I have wanted to wear a sari since I was a kid (I am 53). I have loved them since I first saw the graceful Indian ladies on our frequent trips to Niagra Falls growing up. I've worn Indian inspired tunics for many years and salwar kameez on occasion. I will be wearing a sari for the first time ever this weekend to my daughter's wedding for no other reason except that it's about time! I am beyond excited! Thanks for this and in regards to the person that wrote the article you were referring to, well, I think he's just a grump!

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  44. I love this. Everywhere I have looked it says "yes. Wear the sari", but then there are articles like that guys. I love the sari. I have no ties to India or the religion. But they are beautiful and comfortable as all get out! Perfect in the hot weather (I don't handle heat well.) Being a redhead, the sari offers access to constant shade! It is versatile, practical and stunning. It just makes sense. If worn correctly, according to custom (appropriate age) and with respect (i.e: not for Halloween) then why is it wrong? I have yet to wear one in public. I am just a normal American, no Indian husband/family and I fear the backlash. But when I get home, The first thing to go is my uncomfortable jeans/skirt/dress and I hop right in to my sari. (In all honesty, I feel that this is worse than wearing it in public. Like it is a dirty secret and I am ashamed to wear it.) I wish we lived in a society that embraced culture. We seem so afraid of offending everyone that even our own American culture is lost. That we are a melting pot of cultures. We are supposed to be sharing and respecting of all of our backgrounds. Imagine that. All cultures intertwined, sharing it with each other, being able to celebrate and experience it without worry of offending. The more we know, the less ignorance. The more we share, the more understanding. The more understanding and wisdom we have for each other, the less hate.
    I hope one day I will have the courage to wear it. (I live in the Bay Area, Ca. The headquarters for "everything is culural appropriation")

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  45. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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