A word on decent dressing
There’s been a lot of fuss in Dubai lately about what one should and shouldn’t be allowed to wear to shopping malls. It all started when a couple of local ladies were “disgusted” by the sight of Westerners out in public with “shorts that could pass as hot pants” and skirts that “don’t fully conceal undergarments”. They started a campaign on Twitter, demanding the government do something about it.
And the government has taken them seriously. So seriously it’s said to be considering making it illegal to dress “inappropriately” in public in the UAE.
But of course “inappropriate” is quite subjective. How do you quantify “respectful dressing”? A woman could be covered from neck to ankle in clothes so tight they hide nothing, while another could be wearing baggy shorts that show a little leg above the knee, but be far more chaste.
Personally, I doubt it will ever become law, but what I wanted to write about today was how the whole debate has made me start to feel like a criminal when I’m out in the malls in an outfit of dubious decency.
Now I’m a reasonably respectful dresser at the best of times, not least because I’m a 41-year-old mother of two and not a pretty young slip of a girl with nothing to hide. My outfits are chosen on the value of what they can conceal, not what they reveal.
But since #UAEDresscode became an issue, I’ve become paranoid in the malls. Today, for example, I was in a loose-ish top and jeans – but the top, while covering my bra straps and coming up to my neck – was sleeveless and made of broderie anglaise, through which you could possibly see a little bit of lacy bra (if you looked closely).
Were my jeans too tight on my bum? When I bent down to put DS’s shoes back on, did I get bum cleavage? If there was a law, would that be a crime? Would the security guard stop me as I walked in? Were the Emirati ladies I passed whispering about my visible shoulder as I walked past? What about the men? Was one going to remonstrate with me?
See what I mean: Paranoid.
But while some things are clearly not acceptable, there’s a large grey area. I almost feel we need an online service where we can ask before going out, “showing 80 per cent arms but zero per cent leg, outfit 50 per cent tight – what’s my decency rating?”
What do you think?