My Loud Thoughts On The Proper Way To Dress Up An African Woman

Categories Lifestyle

I have just watched a music video produced by a famous African composer and singer-song writer. The video reminded me what has become very common in music videos, in public places and, sadly, even in churches. Women are wearing next to nothing and men are overdressed, even with their sagging pants.

Please allow me to just churn out my thoughts loudly and let my jittery fingers to capture them.

My mother (R.I.P.) and grandmothers (R.I.P.) used to wear long dresses that went way below the knees and headscarves that covered their hair most of the times. That formed my baseline of decent dressing among women.

Then came younger generations, including mine, where African women are exposing more and more of what our fore-fathers used to call ‘private’. And, in addition, they are not covering up clothes that used to be called under-clothes.

You will find mothers in public places, such as public transport vehicles, with their daughters, dressed similarly. Even during very cold weather, they expose their belly buttons and wear tiny blouses. I am told it’s called “freeze and shine”. Breasts are magnified and much of the cleavage exposed by wearing bras that lift and firm them. Couple this with the tight trousers, called leggings, which probably take lots of time and energy to put on, but which clearly expose all contours, bumps and valleys from waist downwards.

As if this is not enough, I am told that the sizable backside of a true African woman (what my friend calls supporting documents) has become a priceless possession for many and because of that, women are wearing butt enhancers, which are just booty-padded panties, artificial butts.

What surprises me is that men seem to be comfortable when around these women, even encouraging them. I am told one possible reason is because many men these days have been brought up by single parents and they have grown up in homes where women dressed scantily. I am told that that is their baseline dressing code for a decent woman. But then I am not able to understand why men my age and older are not bothered by this kind of dressing. I continue observing more and more men in the company of the half naked girls. I have seen such men proudly marrying the women in big weddings where she wears a long dress for the first time in her life, but quickly reverts to her tiny dresses thereafter.

It is not uncommon to see elderly and respectable men in the uncomfortable situation where they do not know how to behave when such women sit next to them in public places such as in matatu’s (public transport vehicles) where they are stuck until the journey ends. And here seated next to them are exposed breasts glaring right back. They do not know whether to look in the opposite direction, where there will most likely be another set of glaring breasts, whether to just peep unashamedly, or whether to keep themselves busy on their phones.

But what is astonishing is that it is parents themselves who have encouraged these traits. Parents are themselves wearing the same way. They are the ones who buy these microscopic clothes for their kids. They are the ones who take their kids out on weekends to entertainment joints where the children play while father and mother make merry and partake of their favorite drink. It is a win-win situation, they convince themselves. They excuse this perhaps because they despise how they were brought up. They probably think that they are bringing up their children in this manner to compensate for what they missed growing up. But what this is doing is to contribute to the increasing moral decay in today’s society. Years later when the children are older, the same parents pray that their children grow up to be upright, even God-fearing citizens. What a paradox?

I wonder why the dressing style changes drastically when these women reach the mid-forties. The same previously scantily-dressed women all of a sudden start wearing long dresses and covering up their private parts. I wonder whether it is because of a realization that age is fast catching up, or whether they have graduated into grandmother hood, or whether it is because they were always conscious that their dressing code was uncouth.

But why have African women dresses been becoming short from one generation to the next generation? Do they feel decently dressed in the tiny clothes? Is this development or retardation? Is this today’s version of beauty? Or has today’s man changed his criteria of a good woman to marry and therefore has to be enticed by showing off parts that should be private? Or is it because the institution of marriage is not important to our younger generations anymore?

I have a strong feeling that the African women dress this way because they think that it is the best way to create beauty so that they can attract and capture men. I wish they knew what our African forefathers from Ethiopia and Ghana used to say about beauty when advising their sons on who to marry. They said that “the man who marries a beautiful woman, and the farmer who grows sugarcane (Ethiopia), or maize (Ghana), by the roadside have the same problem”.

I wonder why we have decided to throw our rich African traditions to the dogs. I wonder whether we find the traditions so archaic and hence our decision to murder them, by copying foreign traditions and cultures. I wonder what happened to the good old self-preservation for marriage concept.

At this rate, I wonder what women will be wearing two generations from now. I am prophesying that, if all factors remain constant, handkerchiefs will be enough cloth material to dress up women of tomorrow’s generation.

I wonder whether it is just me wondering, whether I have become old fashioned and obsolete that fast. I shudder to think how our forefathers would behave if they rose from the dead into today’s Africa. They are most likely going to beg the creator to take them back.

Yes, I agree that there are communities who stay naked today, even in Africa. But I also know that these communities follow strict traditions, values and norms, accepted, tested and passed from generation to generation over time to ensure sustenance of ethical behavior. There are strict penalties for faltering folks.

Youth, like sunshine, does not last long. The perception of beauty withers in the shade (Quote from “The Hours of Youth” by Arman Nabatiyan). Those who excel in their later years are those who did not over-indulge in non-cultural, non- acceptable norms when they were young.

But again, if your opinion is that my thoughts are out of touch with reality, just let me know, and excuse my mind for thinking such loudly.

I am an epic introvert, who quickly becomes an open book when I pen what’s in my significantly fertile mind; fertile as a result of bombardment by realities that are continuously captured by my inquisitive eyes, ears which are constantly rubbing the ground, through constant reading, and through dreaming too.

Writing provides an opportunity to ‘say’ what my unapologetic quiet mouth will not say; which not only soothes me, but also bequeaths to me a relief, a release, and a hope that the written words will change the world, even if only one person at a time.

And so should you seek, that’s where to find me; deeply tucked inside the blankets of reading, seeing, listening, dreaming, and then writing.

2 thoughts on “My Loud Thoughts On The Proper Way To Dress Up An African Woman

  1. Although I personally agree with some of the things you said I do not understand the obsession that society (read men) have with monitoring and policing what women can or cannot do. Every time an opinion blog writes “African” I cant help but roll my eyes since this word is used to oppress us African women to feel bad about the decisions we choose to make for ourselves. We are not children to be told what to do or how to behave, if a grown woman decides to wear nothing but her underwear it is her prerogative, if she “shames” anyone it is only herself she shames and not society. Kindly stop measuring the morality of society by the choices that women make. Also the rich african traditions you speak of are really demands that were placed by our colonial rulers as a way of oppressing us and placing their own culture above ours so I don’t know how valid this “african culture” argument really is. 🙂

    1. Thanks Lilo for your comments which I really love. Like I said in the blog my views are skewed to my upbringing. The values of my late mother and my late grandmother. I agree that she is free to appear in public with what we used to call underwear. And I agree and appreciate these values may be obsolete in today’s world. But I beg that you allow me to disagree with you on one point. The rich African traditions were in place long before the colonizer discovered Kenya. The traditions were what kept communities cohesive. Much like what we call a constitution in today’s societies. As an example, a kid was the property of the society and could be disciplined by a passerby on behalf of the parent. I am that obsolete but I believe we could borrow a leaf or two from those traditions.

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