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Madness in the name of Fashion

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Growing up in a Muslim dominated community of Malshegu a suburb of the Tamale Metropolis in the late 80s, it was rare to see young ladies show off their “vital” parts which is supposed to be a preserve of their prospective husbands.

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Your appearance in those days and I believe to date was a manifestation of your upbringing and the credit was given to your parents for not shirking their parental
responsibility by ensuring that you are decent both at home and outside. Questions like are you Mr. so so and so’s daughter were frequently asked and all praises were showered on them for a good upbringing of their child.

Looking at “secret” parts was a taboo that deserved punishment by public flogging or being denied food for days which I became a victim of for two consecutive times after which I opted to join the priesthood a dream that has not been achieved

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Ladies nurtured within this setting, till date are well regarded among their peers as you can always see them neatly dressed with the popular “Kaba and sleet” during festive occasions and nice straight dresses made of African Fabric. Most of these women have bequeathed the decent upbringing from their parents to their kids to ensure the generation of disciplined appearance is continued.

Some of them as time slipped by have been consumed by fashion which I will prefer to call foreign madness which is gradually taking away the African discipline in the way of appearance.

You might never have had the embarrassing experience of unintentionally looking at a lady’s exposed buttocks as she tries to get out of a vehicle. I have. I have also observed with pity and disdain the way most girls, ladies and even some married women dress nowadays. All over the place, you see ladies dressed in clothes that left bare the greater parts of their bodies. Parts of the woman’s body which hitherto, are considered sacred and are thus covered such as breasts, buttocks and thighs are displayed as if they are for sale.

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It is not uncommon to see some ladies in dresses that left bare the whole of their backs and bellies; the ones they call in the Ghanaian parlance ‘I’m aware’. It hurts even more to see some of them in such dresses on the TV either preaching morality through the singing of gospel songs or hosting shows meant to educate the public. Movie actresses and secular musicians would not spare us that nudity either. At other times, it is rather annoying when you see them in such dresses sashaying on the street heading for the church, presumably going to worship God. You can’t help praying to God for mercy!

Miniskirts have been around a long time ago. But now, low-rise jeans trousers are the in-thing. Only problem: this type of jeans trousers is intended to sit on the hips, below the waistline and therefore has the tendency of exposing the buttocks and its cleavage especially when the wearer is sitting or bending down. But our ladies love them! So, waist beads and underwear, especially g-strings are now a usual sight to behold anytime a lady is in these low-rise jeans trousers. And because they put on blouses that are not long enough to alleviate the damage being caused by the low-rise jeans; and also do not usually even put on any underwear, their buttocks and their cleavages are glaringly exposed especially when they are sitting, getting out of vehicles or picking up an item on the floor. Wow!

Low-cut blouses, with necklines so low that they expose the breast and its cleavage are part of the order of the day; another 21st century fashion! And so, as you walk the streets, expect to see as many exposed breasts and their cleavages as you wish; they are definitely going to come your way! Those are our would-be-mothers (or even mothers); people who would be expected to nurture young ones into responsible adults in future!

The situation gets worse during night entertainment events where you see our women dress to crucify. On such occasions you will question yourself if we are on our way to bury “Lucifer” considering the “outlooks and inlooks”

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If you dare ask why they now dress in such irresponsible and rather immoral ways, you would be told “Wobe hwea hwe; wonhwe so a yi wani” (read: “If you will look, look; if you will not look, look somewhere else”). If you are spared that uncouthness, you are sure to be lectured about ‘civilisation’: the basis of it all! And of course coupled with the support of a constitutional right –freedom of dressing! And so, ladies no more see anything wrong with walking the streets almost in the nude. Just a few days ago, one of these university girls told me they would soon walk the streets in just g-strings and brassieres. I believed her. Why not? I have already seen girls doing that in some western movies. And since they copy their bad dress standards from such sources, I know they would really do it soon if they have not started already.

Freedom of dressing is a constitutional right. But I think it would be wise for our ladies to realise that the bad dress standards they are adopting are not only a form of sexual harassment to men and boys but also a major cause of the many rape cases that are reported every year all over the world. Such dress standards are also a cause of sexual harassment directed at them usually at their work places. That does not end the story; in such outfits, they portray themselves as sex objects. What else does nudity connote if not sex? It is therefore not surprising that most men nowadays perceive them as sex objects. And they would always accuse men of perceiving them as such! Even though such mode of dressing is destroying the sitting and walking posture of most of them, ignorance (or rather ‘civilization’) continues to lure them into it. Ignorance is really bliss! I would not talk about the religious side of this whole menace.

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Since no one would tell me those are the only types of clothes in the shops these days, I always wonder what they hope to achieve by dressing in such manners: probably to entice men? Or just to show the world what they have got? Whatever it is, it is most unfortunate that as we try to fight crimes such as rape and sexual harassment in our society, some of our women and ladies have decided to compound the problem by adopting such dress standards which are totally degrading and an insult to womanhood.

Religious organizations: churches and mosques must continuously caution their ladies to dress decently.
Civil society groups must put up campaigns aimed at preaching the message of decent dress standards among ladies and women. Parents must monitor and regulate the dress standards of their daughters. Educational institutions, especially the tertiary institutions must come up with rules that regulate the dress code of their students. We cannot look on unconcerned whilst this canker labeled as fashion continues to eat deep into our way of life. All that said, it is the duty of all of us to support this humble call for decency in the mode of dressing of our ladies. Unless this is done, we may wake up one day just to see our women, mothers for that matter, walking the streets in just g-strings and brassieres as my university friend predicted. And they would of course count that also among their freedoms – that of dressing!

By Stephen Zoure with additional files from Prosper Senaam“

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