Dressing, vogue and decency (2)
It is, however, a sad commentary to note that the youths of nowadays and even adult parents, are daily losing their sense of decency in the name of vogue, modernity, “new school” and the like; celebrating and embracing a completely strange clime that is totally strange to our culture.
In those good old-days, it was pretty simple to determine what tribe, race, culture and even house a child came from. One could easily tell if you were of the Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa or Fulani tribe. Your dress could tell if you were from a royal lineage down to the very family and house you came from. No one tells you on seeing a Yoruba woman regaled in iro and buba with gele head gear where she is from.
Same goes for an Hausa or Fulani man in babariga, caftan and cap to match. Little must be said of the Ibo woman clad in lapa (wrapper), blouse, adorned with beads. But gone seems to be the good old days, as those dresses now belong to the class of old school. What we see nowadays are our youths exposing their nudity, flouting their breasts, laps, waistlines, cleavages with reckless abandonment for anyone who dares to see.
The advantages of decent dressing cannot be overemphasised. Even at the lowest level of our moral decadence, no employer will at an interview opt for an indecently dressed applicant as a staff because a staff is an image of the company he/she represents. Show me your friend and I will tell you the kind of person/people you are, says an old adage. This, I guess, tends to influence why we dress well and good to occasions. If we know how to dress decently to occasions, why do we not choose to dress decently all through? The way we dress can capture our mood-whether sad, depressed or happy. It can speak volume about who we are- whether responsible or irresponsible; whether we deserve to be honoured, respected, referred or otherwise. Provocative dressing will tell about our quality- whether cheap, of easy virtue or of worth and value.
Decent dressing sends a message on purity and honour. It puts emphasis on values of the inner quality that translates to outward attractiveness. It says a person is worth far more than meets the eye. There is a depth of character that arises above beauty or charm. When we dress modestly, we are saying that we posses inner qualities for which we should gain applicable attention and value from others.
The Bible places a high premium on modesty. 1Timothy 2:9, for example, admonishes (Christian) women to dress modestly. They are to focus on (their) inner qualities rather than being overly concerned about outward appearances. This does not mean they should not take care of themselves, look their best, and enjoy their beauty. It only means they should not use their God-given beauty for selfish, self-centred reasons, or seek lustful attention of men. It is believed anyone with proper upbringing from a decent family, will not dress nude in public because of good upbringing.
Here are some quotes on decent dressing buttressing the importance of good appearance and need to dress nicely: For Ozzie Ooh: “Don’t dress to impress. Just be the best unlike the rest.” Judith Rasband believes: “The way we dress affects the way we think, the way we feel, the way we act, and the way others reacts to us.” On his part Georges St-Pierre thinks: “If you feel good, you dress good, and if you feel good, you do good.” Tom Ford merely buttressed this when he said: “Dressing well is a form of good manners.”
Time has come for us all to have a rethink otherwise the consequence of our today’s inaction may render our tomorrow’s action inconsequential. We are Africans and not Americans and will never be no matter how we try to. We must not copy what they do because of what we see on television without due recourse to our own cultural values.
We are Africans and not Europeans. Their weather condition is quite different from ours and so are their culture and perception. Telling us not to dress like them does not mean we don’t have to be stylish. We can emulate their dresses that are not repulsive to our culture. Let’s be simple and modest and make positive impacts on our society. After all, black is beautiful and we need to be proud of who we are. We are perfectly created by God and no amount of aesthetic values can change our form. It is high time we stopped this copy-cat mentality. Let us be more conscious of our inward values than outward.
They are eternal and precious than the outward. Let us make decency our watch word. No matter what vogue and foreign influences may be, remember, Nigeria is our own. Let us do the needful and give our culture a value for others to cherish. I am proud to be a Nigerian. I will cherish her culture and promote it.
• Omotara is an undergraduate in the Mass Communication Department, Covenant University, Otta, Ogun State. Tel: 08100544690, 07010149884
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