Dressing, vogue and decency (1)
TO begin with, I would want to define what a dress is. Dress according to Cambridge dictionary, is defined as a piece of clothing (dressing) for women or girls (and boys alike)- that covers the upper part of their bodies and hangs down over their legs. By implication, dressing connotes any form of bodily adornment that covers a person from head to toe. This perhaps underscores the importance of dressing and the need to be sensitive to its perception. Your dressing speaks volume about you. This truism is a popular one that has transcended times and generations.
Why is decent dressing a necessity, one may want to ask? The answer is simple. As the saying goes “the way you dress is the way you will be addressed.” Your dress code is almost synonymous with who people take you to be. The need for decent dressing cannot be overstressed if the current societal values are to be rebased and reconstructed. Our societal landscape is dotted with decay which permeates age groups, educational facet, religious terrain and sexuality. We need an urgent moral reconstruction to restore sanity back to our system for the sake of posterity. Our society must reconnect its lost glory if we must have any treasure to bequeath to coming generations. Enough of illicit dressing on our campuses, streets, religious and ceremonial centres. Enough of fouling people’s sensibilities with our naked and half exposed craving that chills evil imagination down the spine of unsuspecting opposite sex. The rising spade of social vices like assault on women, sexual abuse, bi-sexual activities, crave for overnight wealth can be traced to indecent dressing.
Since man’s consciousness of self dignity in the Garden of Eden after the fall and the attendant need to cover his nudity with leaves and animal skin at the cradle of existence, the desire to dress “up” or “down” has become one insatiable quest he has not succeeded in taming or assuaging. From one generation to another, dressing has transformed across vogues leaving man helpless and susceptible to taking cognisance of when and where to draw boundaries between good and bad, modesty and immodesty, decency and indecency and worst still, morality and immorality; with each clime of the divide having peculiar influences and effects on the moral, cultural, social and spiritual psyche of man and society alike.
The fusion between need and necessity has completely eroded if not altered man’s perception, making him lose the congruent essence of dressing for share glamour. It should be presumed the main purpose of dressing or clothing is coverage- from nudity, shame, psychological embarrassment and the like with the desire to shield those treasured elements nature has strategically situated in our bodies from unforeseen intrusion. It therefore behoves us to preserve the dignity of these sensitive anatomical parts by shielding them from the prying eyes of intruders without offending their sensibilities or assaulting their behavioural albeit, attitudinal patterns and moral stability.
It is, however, a sad commentary what we see all around today in the name of dress essence how profanity, indecency, immorality have crept in to erode our good virtues. Many of our youths parade themselves in nakedness adducing same to modernisation. The nation is daily waning into abysmal bleak without certainty of future restoration. Our media are awashed with sights of obscenity much as our words, actions and body languages are in obscurity, profanity and degradation of human dignity.
Prior to this decadent generation, Nigeria as a people was reputed for a culture of decency, respect, modesty and preservation of human dignity. Those were good ages when we saw ourselves as role models for emulation, when the creed was “remember the child of whom you are.” All these virtues have since been washed away by misplaced civilisation, modernisation and influences that are absolutely foreign to our cultural values. Our traditional modes of dressing are today considered old-fashion, backward and archaic.
It is believed that there are three types of people in society. First, are those who when taught, do not take to what they have been taught. The second being those who when taught, take to what they have been taught but then, return to their wrong deeds. The last set of people are those who after being taught, teach themselves and build on it in order to come out brighter and shining. These are the best set a society will ever hope for and they are rare. They develop on who they are in order to become better persons in society. This is what I hope for my generation. A generation that is teachable and adaptable to change and the change must start with us.
Attempts at self justification atimes leads people to miscarry belief system and misapply concepts. Many reconstruct even biblical injunctions to tilt perceptions to favour their thoughts. I have heard people say God is only interested in our inward rather than outward manifestations. They claim what matters to God is our heart rather than our dressing or appearance. Some have forgotten cleaningness is next to holiness and that from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. The decision to dress or appear the way we are is a product of our heart’s (mind) perception. Both the inward and outward are all but one. The outward is an expression of our inward.
A story was once told of two friends-one, a moralist, the other a socialite. The moralist was always at the edge for the socialite’s perceived indecent, immoral and flamboyant dress essence. But the socialite will rebuff claiming it is the “content” (of one’s heart) that matters and not the “container” (the body). One day the socialite visited her friend- the moralist and requested for a cup of water from her host’s younger brother
The brother, smarting from his own wisdom chose to serve their “guest” water inside a potty that was both new and hygienic which Miss socialite rejected. When informed that the water was from a hygienic source and the potty new and unused, Miss Socialite simply refused the offer claiming it was served with a potty and not a glass cup. She was then reminded of her ideology of content and container and made to realise it is container that advertises content. A bad container will never sell a good content. Why? We see the container first before content.
Your appearance speaks volume about you. The way you dress is the way people will address you. Your appearance will indicate how people will perceive or approach you. If you put a new wine in an old bottle, it will burst and spill off good wine. Much as we are mindful of the inward beauty so should we be concerned with our outward look. Your outward is the window through which your inward can be seen and assessed. Decent dressing is an important aspect of a society’s lifestyle. It reflects the moral psyche of a people and like a mirror captures from time to time, the moral pedestal a people has ascended or drifted from.
To be continued.
Omotara is an undergraduate in the Mass Communication Department, Covenant University Otta, Ogun State. Tel: 08100544690, 07010149884