Colleges are hotbeds for the latest fashion trends and also for shaming and mocking for outfit repetition. Yes, shaming someone for repeating their clothes is still very much a thing. Not explicitly, but within classrooms and in groups, humiliating comments are made by either the students’ peers or acquaintances. However, not many are vocal about this and shaming for outfit repetition continues to remain an unrecognised issue. Bayside Journal spoke to students from Mumbai colleges to try to understand the issue and how they deal with it.
Taunts for repeating a pair of jeans on her 18th birthday was something Shreya Jaokar never expected. Shreya, for whom clothes are a source of confidence, was left dumbstruck when an acquaintance sitting behind her blatantly made a remark about the jeans she was wearing and made a joke about it. “I was wearing the jeans I had worn the day before and I never really thought anybody would be bothered,” she shares. “But as I sat down after greeting my best friend, this girl sitting right behind commented on my jeans.” What initially appeared to be just a comment quickly escalated into a joke in that particular group. “The comment was clearly made to hurt me, and it did,” Shreya adds.
For Sumit Kumran, 18, being judged and shamed for repeating clothes has become an everyday affair. “People focus on the clothes I repeat, but when I wear something new they have nothing to say,” he says and adds that he is often bombarded with questions on his clothes by not just acquaintances but also his own friends. What saddens him is that many associate clothes with one’s standard of living, all the while completely sidelining one’s knowledge and talents. “If you frequently repeat your clothes, it is assumed you come from a lower socioeconomic background. Those who question me about my outfits think I don’t want to update my fashion sense or I am into sasta (cheap) clothing. That is definitely the case,” he says.
Aafreen Khan wasn’t surprised one bit when some acquaintances jeered at her for repeating the same top twice. She had witnessed a few of her classmates take a dig at a professor for constantly switching between two shirts and knew some of her classmates were terribly judgemental. “On a night out at a friend’s place, I slept without changing. The next day, I went to college wearing the same and one of my acquaintances began cringing over that. She was like how could you repeat the same dress again and asked if I had taken bath,” she says. “The intention was clearly to embarrass me.”
Namrata Sanghani, a 17-year-old, has to hear mean comments for repeating clothes “all the time”, even if it is once or twice a week. “I am asked if I’ve got only one t-shirt and if I am superstitious and associate a t-shirt with luck factor,” she says. Though sometimes the comments are serious, Namrata says, she is used to them now and has learnt over time to not pay heed to them.
Shaming and Mocking Is Intentional
While everyone repeats clothes in a week or a fortnight, some unnecessarily create a fuss about it by mocking people who do repeat their outfits. “Many don’t know how to mind their own business and some don’t think twice before making comments,” says Shreya. “We do say that appearances are deceptive, but in a competitive environment people don’t leave a single opportunity to pull each other down. From clothes to accessories to looks, judgements are made about everything,” she says.
Sumit says those who mock other people clearly derive pleasure out of it. “Those smirks and sneers that follow the comments indicate a lot,” he says. “It looks as if they like showing people how superior they are when it comes to clothes. Some even use outfits as a parameter to pick up a fight or enmity with someone,” he adds. Dhruv Kataria, 17, agrees with Shreya and Sumit. “Some feel they become cool by putting someone down, which is absolutely wrong. Besides that, people don’t understand that priorities and preferences differ from person to person.”
However, both Shreya and Afreen feel that more and more students are now accepting the fact that some people do have limited wardrobe supplies and that it is totally acceptable to repeat outfit. “Why should one even spend a lot on clothes, I don’t understand,” says Shreya.
Ignorance Is Bliss
Comments and taunts are hurtful in the beginning, but students eventually learn to deal with them. “You cannot take everyone’s comments seriously,” says Shreya. “Moreover,” she adds, “they are so shallow that I can’t even be bothered to respond.” Sumit expresses his displeasure about people judging other people’s appearances and calls it a “vague perception”. “If I am comfortable in what I am wearing, then I don’t invest a thought in what would others think me or my clothes,” he says. “Initially it would affect me to the extent that I would be upset for days, but now I’ve stopped thinking too much about,” he adds.
“Everyone judges one another and it is okay till judgements are kept to oneself,” says Namrata. “It is no one’s business to comment on what I am wearing. People don’t dress up for others, they dress up for themselves,” she adds. Afreen agrees, “Comments are hurtful, but I don’t take them negatively because there is no point in spoiling my mood because of such things. I normally don’t repeat my outfits, so it’s okay if I do once in a while.”