“I am so much more than my clothes.” – A Girl’s Note To The Rishta Aunty That Rejected Her

As women, we all have either experienced or heard several stories regarding the infamous rishta aunties. They judge us, scorn us and at rare times, praise us. But a lot of this judgement comes from superficial things. One of our followers, Rosheen Sohail narrates her incident to us. Keep scrolling to read her article about the mother that claimed she’s not ‘feminine enough’ for her son:

Society acts as though a good Pakistani girl should primarily wear a shalwar kameez with a flowing dupatta, have long hair, and should be constantly focused on how she can make those around her happy. Her sole purpose in life should be to be married and have a happy married life. She should abstain from all evils like having relationships, going out with friends, having a career, bad culinary skills, etc. A good Pakistani girl should essentially, be an angel. Well, fortunately I am not. 

Earlier this year, the fact that I’m not the conventional girl a mother would like for her son was rubbed in my face, and again a few weeks ago I was reminded of the harsh reality that the way I choose to live my life is ‘wrong.’ People should apparently know just by looking at me that I meet their perfect image of a Pakistani girl. A cousin who I’m sure had pure intentions, brought a bag full of hand me downs to my house and told me how I don’t dress feminine enough for a mother to consider for her son. But, should I consider the son of a mother who decides who I am by looking at a picture of me in a red leather jacket? Because that’s exactly what the mother in question had done. 

Yes I have a red biker jacket, but I also have jhumkas that I love. I am more than just one outfit that I have worn. I love dressing up with long duppattas that almost choke me in the intense summer heat, khussas that hurt my feet so bad I have to put band aids on, or jhumkas that at times make my ears hurt because they’re so heavy. But I also have an array of leather jackets that I think are a huge part of me. So who am I? I choose to dress up in ways completely different from each other. So do my clothes define who I am? Do they tell someone what I believe in or what I stand for? 

The saddest part is that it is not only my cousin who suffers from this mind set, but most of the people from my country. A girl is as good as she dresses up and she is only dressed up nice if it is eastern. If she steps out in public wearing a pair of jeans and t-shirt, she is apparently inviting not only the men, but the women to stare at her and character assassinate her. This discomfort is something that every woman grows up dealing with. I am used to it when it comes to strangers, but when someone who you’re close to characterises you like that, it hurts a lot more.

This cousin of mine was someone I always looked up to. She was the woman I wanted to be because of many reasons – the way she handled her household, her career and more. But this incident made me feel betrayed. I thought she would appreciate and know me well enough to not tell me that I should change a part of myself for a potential rishta. She should have at least acknowledged that I can’t be defined by the clothes I wear, especially not in one picture. 

It’s been a year since I have had a job. I like being my own person and earning my own living, but coming home at the end of the day to my mom is what I live for; she is my safe haven. I can buy myself my own clothes, but the ones my brother spoils me with are still the most special to me. Introverted though I am, there are few things I like better than a day out with friends. Laughing my heart out with the girls who are a huge part of who I am today, is the best kind of therapy. But I also love curling up in bed on Sundays with a cup of coffee and a good book. 

But can a rishta aunty know all this by looking at just my picture? Can she know that I love waffles for breakfast, but my Saturday mornings are always incomplete without my mom’s parathas? Can she tell that before that photograph had been taken, I had been in a white shalwar kameez but I changed my clothes just for the picture? Can she know that this outer persona of a punk girl is just a cover for a total desi girl at heart? My clothes are who I am, but they are not all that I am. I am so much more. But she will never know that because I would never choose her son. Not in a million years. 

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