Saturday, December 26, 2015

How to Dress like a Mommy Once your Daughter turns Teen

It wasn’t too long ago when I had a conversation with a friend about the clothes I wear; we would meet often at a club, restaurant or a party and she’d comment on how well I carried what I wore “at my age”; which simply meant, early 40s, not a thin woman by any standards, and definitely not shy.

A short tight skirt has been a standard fixture in my wardrobe since I was 16 years old. I love my skirts – and while the midriff has become fleshier as I have advanced in age, I work very hard to keep the butt and legs in shape.

My children (daughter in particular) were used to seeing mommy in such clothes when they were younger. I maintained decorum and never wore a skirt to school, but could never wear kurtis as most mothers do at school events. Back then, my daughter would show me off. “My friends love you because you’re so cool,” she’d say. “Their mothers don’t dress like you, mama.”

But all that changed when she turned 14 and suddenly became aware of what ‘mommy wore’.

Suddenly I was dressing too loud, too bold and ‘not my age’. My distressed jeans raised eyebrows (not in appreciation, let me quickly clarify), and so did dresses and skirts. Seeing my teen’s reactions, I began dressing down and tried hard to change my wardrobe to start dressing ‘like a mommy’ when we hung out together.

The next two years were tumultuous because it mattered to me to consider her feelings. I could not be insensitive to her even though I knew that it was the roller-coaster ride her hormones were on that governed her moods and responses. And so I did what was needed.

So here’s my list of do’s and don’ts for all you mommies whose girls are soon going to be at the mercy of their hormones:

  1. Don’t wear spaghetti straps unless you cover yourself with a shrug or jacket. (They’d prefer you wore a veil but never mind…)
  2. Distressed jeans and butt-hugging skirts can be stored away for a few years.
  3. Do NOT show off that tattoo; if it’s on your wrist, wear full sleeves!
  4. You can wear kurtis and long tops; in fact, the longer, the better.
  5. Bid goodbye to low-back and backless shirts. You’re a mommy now!
  6. They love you in saris but will complain about the navel-baring, deep-back blouses and sundry other oversights.
  7. You’ll often hear: “Why can’t you just dress like other moms! Sheesh!” You must respond, “I’m trying!”
  8. If you have a piercing, then God help you!
  9. Do NOT dress in your own genuine style especially around a boy they have a crush on.
As mothers of teen girls we will realise that it is a passing phase and the easier we make it on them, the easier, in turn, we make it on ourselves.

Two years hence (she’s 16 now), we are both comfortable with what the other wears (I am not a fan of her flaunting the midriff in a western outfit, but then, it’s her style) and she has grown to accept her mother’s quirkiness. Peace and harmony have been restored on the wardrobe front.

The small sacrifice in toning down our dressing style pays rich dividends… because one day, when you discuss the issue with her (and seek her permission to write this personal account), she will, in her nonchalant way, tell you, “But I’ve always loved your sense of style!”

Outwardly you’ll say, “Thank you,” and inwardly, “Hallelujah!”

This post first appeared on

Monday, December 21, 2015

Ashaji you're a hero

Dear Ashaji,

We have never met and perhaps never will. Unbeknownst to you, I was just one of those millions of women in India who followed your daughter’s ordeal. 

I was one of those who felt your pain – as a woman and more so, as a mother.

But the predominant feeling was one of anger, intense anger.

I was angry with those rapists, with those unknown passers by who didn’t stop to help, with all those men who have no value for a woman’s body and her wishes, who think nothing of throwing acid on a girl’s face...

But most of all, I was angry with the patriarchs in my family who had let their daughters down time and again; by marrying them against their will, for killing their female babies in the womb, for conveniently overlooking the reality of marital rape...

Yesterday, you were quoted as saying that if the juvenile walks you will feel that you have failed your daughter.

I want to tell you Ashaji - you will not and have not failed your daughter.

WE have failed you both.

Those lawmakers who did not bring the amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act up for discussion and debate in the parliament for three years, failed you.

Those putrid politicians who lost no time in turning your nightmare into a gimmick and photo op, failed you.

Those from the media, the purported watchdogs of society, who failed to create the required furore, failed you.

Those of us for whom Nirbhaya never became Jyoti Singh, failed you.

We, Indians, collectively, as a Nation, as a humanity have failed you.

In the last few days I’ve heard you talk to the media and I hear the voice of a mother who is still living the trauma, your pain is palpable. You’re up against the mighty judicial system of this vast country and it is going to be a long battle. But you rage on, despite the hurdles.

That makes you a hero Ashaji. Jyoti is lucky to have been born to you.