By Ragi Bashonga:
She is a working woman. An aura of intellect and expensive education envelopes her like heavy perfume and leaves a trail of success. She carries herself with the posture of a queen, her dress code bearing witness that in actual fact she could well be one. Her wardrobe strongly resembles the expensive boutiques she visits on the regular, where she is greeted by name. Yet the high price tag on her dress only matches her credit card limit and speaks not for the salary she makes.
She is a college student, vibrant, ambitious and desperate to make a name for herself. Having come from a history of suffering and being impoverished, her aspiration is to break free from the hindrances of money. To look and feel that she has made it, that she is now different from what she was and has transformed into something and someone, into the personification of “freedom”. She shops in the central business district for something to clothe her dreams, for a manner of dress that will make people address her as the image of success that speaks for the salary that she'll someday make.
From the dawn of history women have been the symbol of beauty. The human attraction that is worthy of praise not so much so for how she was made but for how well she fits into what society dictates to be beautiful. We have moved away from ancient African days where a women's beauty was seen in her broad hips, bare breasts and a string of beads into an era of the Western ideal. And even so, it is no longer sufficient to have a small body frame and processed hair. Our style of dress, manner of speech and choice of career are expected to meet the criteria of 'successful woman'. It does not suffice to just be, we ought to look the part too.
What captures my attention is the effort women put into appearance. Whether upper-class, middle-class or just one of those other “classes”, every woman wants to feel like a woman! And not just as any ordinary woman, but as an exceptional one. It is achieving this that becomes tricky, not because the look is unachievable but the price we feel we should be paying for it may as well be. Women focus much attention on price which we assume automatically transforms into quality (which in some cases is undoubtedly true) and shun the cheap store which sells the identical item of clothing. It is seemingly much better to speak of a boutique sale than prices that are say 'permanently on sale'. For this, women may even run themselves into debt, or settle for a cheap alternative until they qualify for the plastic that affords all things pretty.
My vote is for the realisation, acknowledgement and acceptance that no matter where we buy our clothing, who we are, what we have or what we dream, in present day society almost every item of clothing is seamed with the common theme: Made in China.
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