Friday, March 01, 2013

Bye Bye Burka

I'm loving life. It's been some time since I've lived in the chaos of Asia, and the longer I'm in the states, the more I appreciate what I have here. Let's talk about fashion.

I LOVE dressing up. I love fashionable short skirts, cute jeans, high heels, you name it. I even wear makeup. I know. Those who have known me for a while are laughing right now. Yes, I've finally girl'd out. I get to be pretty and I even wear sparkles.

You might not think that it's a big deal. Lots of western women girl out all the time, but it's a big deal to me.

During my 20s, I had to dress to hide. In Nepal, I lived with village tribes. The villagers were very welcoming, but they still treated me like a zoo animal. I got stared down all the time, and it became exhausting. How many white 21 year olds live alone in a Nepalese village while speaking fluent Nepali? I can understand their confusion, but I used fashion to minimize the constant rubber necking and googly eyes from onlookers. Pretty much, I got a tan, acted like a villager (which wasn't hard because it was a very organic and primal environment) and wore village clothing. See example below:

Yours truly, in a Himalayan mountain hamlet.

My efforts to be a chameleon paid off though. One time, in the village, a group of Israeli tourists looked straight at me. One of them said, "Does anyone speak English here?!?! They're all locals!!! We won't find what we need." I didn't say a word and they looked right past me. Never approached me. I would have spoken to them in English, but they were loud and rude, so I just watched and laughed inside. They thought I was a local!!! HAHAHA!

Then there was Afghanistan...

I had to dress like a local as much as possible, because I didn't want to get kidnapped while walking the city streets. I wasn't perfect at looking like an Afghan woman, but I will proudly say that an Afghan soldier once asked me if I was from Pakistan. Again, I think it was because of my tan, my energy, and my somewhat regional clothing.

Humor made the culture diving easier. My friend Jeremy and I used to make jokes about the fashion all the time when we were in Kabul. He would say, "I just saw your wrists. Put those things away, you whore!" It was hilarious for us.

On the streets of Kabul. Nothing sexier than trying to dress like a sack of potatoes. Hot.

Can you imagine? Dressing to hide for so many years? What a weird concept. It didn't really phase me. It was just a small price to pay to explore a wondrous world, full of miracles and craziness. I have no regrets, but now! Let me tell you, I've broken out of my burka mentality to rock fitted dresses and hot fashion whenever possible. Oh the things one can appreciate. I'm sure the women who came before me in my own country understand what I'm talking about. Remember women, we had a fashion revolution here not too long ago.

Ah, that's better. I could have been stoned to death for this in Kabul. 

And this fashion statement would have been a straight up death wish. This was in LA, not Kabul :-)

1 comment:

Dianne said...

AWESOME post, Liz! I remember when I moved back to the US from Japan, I had to sleep in my walk-in closet for a while (on a futon) because the master bedroom was too big and I just couldn't get comfortable. And, I remember that closet was full of clothes in browns and blacks. Now, in Mexico, my closet is full of colors with barely a brown to be found anywhere! Fortunately, we are "us" wherever we are and however we dress! ;)