From “Vulgar” to “Progressive: The Curious Case of Shorts as an Outfit among Young Indian Girls

Shetty, Praveen K and Samanth, Rashmi (2020) From “Vulgar” to “Progressive: The Curious Case of Shorts as an Outfit among Young Indian Girls. International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies, 18 (2). ISSN 2327-0055

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The impact of globalization, particularly on developing countries, is often loosely viewed as a process of Westernization. The opening of markets combined with a flow of Westernized idea of life is skeptically viewed as Euro�American hegemonic approach to the rest of the world. The conventional response to counter this process through the preservation of cultural tradition and a contested identity has often led to insistence on “moral purity” and preservation of “indigenous values.” However, in the face of inevitable acceptance of a global culture in an era of unlimited flow of information and access to knowledge, the viable response seems to be an acceptance of cultural hybridization. This article tries to capture this trans-cultural dilemma of India among the upper middle class in relation to an attire that is increasingly making its way as a norm—wearing “shorts.” The wearing of shorts by young girls in a traditional setup in India was generally viewed as an embodiment of western modernity and often frowned upon as “vulgar” by the society. Interestingly, the attitude towards this piece of clothing is gradually moving toward deeming it as a mark of “freedom” and “respect” to women in the elite circles. This notion is percolating down through the average middle class and shorts have transformed from “vulgar” to “progressive.” The article attempts to explore the reasons for this transformation of worldview among the middle class families of India and the resultant ambivalence that exists in being compelled to choose shorts as a piece of modernity. Using cultural hybridization as a framework, through a series of interviews among young Indian girls and the people related to them in a small town in India, this article attempts to comprehend the attitude toward the wearing of shorts. It proposes to examine the impact of globalization beyond the conventional perceptions of westernization and opens up newer perspectives of understanding the impact of global culture. The article tries to capture the middle class Indian dilemma in dealing with the changing value system through a representative cultural hybridization in attire.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cultural Hybridity, Westernization, Values, Dress, Modernity, India, Shorts, Global Culture
Subjects: Engineering > MIT Manipal > Humanities and Management
Engineering > MIT Manipal > Mechanical and Manufacturing
Depositing User: MIT Library
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2022 04:29
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2022 04:34

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