The lust for leading a better life and the opportunities provided by money and exposure to the media worldwide have together opened the possibilities for the Indian women to adopt a life style which includes money, glamour, fame and beauty as far as possible.
Several reasons have been forwarded by the social scientists for this kind of consciousness towards life style in general and fashion in particular. The rising income leads amongst the middle class in the most important reason. It is only the dispensable money which would go in such consumer goodies as refrigerators, the television sets, videos, music system, ovens, cooking ranges, washing machines and other home appliances.
Success in life has become so much synonymous wit materialistic achievement today that a women would not mind if her husband is little corrupt of dishonest to a level where he cannot be caught or discredited. She would even cares less if her own son is at a job which separates him from his younger wife and child or her daughter is in a profession that may be of day long mental torture in the male dominated society, so long as money comes home.
The nouveau riche women have adopted with great ease and convenience the western standards of life style. The social taboos at the work places are breaking rather fast – young girls working in jobs where men might leer at them; women working in workplaces where the majority of colleagues are men and opposite sexes socializing freely together. The focus of the family value has changed from being respectable to being moneyed. The definition of respectability has changed. Therefore, a life style which is ostentatious is desired by women. Most middle class homes today are well painted and maintained even if the apartments are shanty and dwellings ill constructed. A good deal is spent on items like tiled floors, neat looking bathrooms, curtains, furniture and dining room accessories.
A recent trend amongst women, unfortunately with its dysfunctional consequents in an over emphasis on physical grooming and slimming to the extent of torturing oneself just for the sake of misplace notions of beauty imported from the West. The craze to look beautiful amongst women with no consideration for the inner beauty ha become tradition and beauty parlors have been mushrooming throughout the country. Women’s gym and health clubs, where housewives and working women gather with equal enthusiasm have also spawned.
Just as men go to a bar today to relax and shed away stress and fatigue of the day long work, women go to beauty parlors or kitty parties to forget their family and career tensions. While it may not be possible for a large majority of Indian women as yet to get together at clubs or bars, alternatives are found in kitty parties and card parties where they vie with each other or create better and more superior food items and to get social prominence within the group to which they belong. Similarly to competition for beauty is much more visible at family functions like wedding, festivals and major parties. Even middle class families, now in a flux of economic and cultural change, follow the examples of the rich in marriage and other celebrations. Thousands of rupees could be neatly spent in grooming the bride and other members as a beauticians charges for bridal makeup, draping the sarees in the latest fashion, choosing the flowers for the hair and displaying the jeweler.
Enormous amount is spent on clothes too, as women today are more fashionable and body conscious, not only willing to experiment with clothes but also spend more money on custom-made outfits and accessories to match. Much of this, of course has to do with the burgeoning trade in fashion garments, but this could not have been possible without the active support of the fashion conscious women. Anyone walking through a market area cannot remain oblivious to costume, jeweler, hair bands and clips, shoes, handbags, scarves, dupattaas, cholis, chappals, displayed by roadside hawkers as well as high class stores. Hordes of women are seen buying been ordinary accessories at fabulous prices. The life style is no different for the small town women.
The new experience in life style adoption, that the Indian women re undergoing could not have been possible without an unprecedented exposure to a wonderful spectrum of life style from every continent transmitted through the media along with increased travel and from the fast forward technological leaps which the world is making. Indian women are today more conscious than ever before. They read magazines, see tele-programmes on different cuisines and buy goods made in many more countries. Of late, the visual and print media have shifted their focus to Asia and its up surging economics.
Countries such as Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia are opening up to this Asian revolution. All this has affected the Indian women as never before. There is today a distinct transformation in the attitude of the women in India.
The Indian women has suddenly stumbled upon concepts of high level materialism, personality grooming to improve one’s career or life style, individual freedom to everyone, having fun and enjoyment through travel, eating out, shopping and indulging in celebrity gossip, watching celebrity life styles, seeing TV serial and films on cable networks or videos. Her attitudes change have affected India’s culture to the extent that she has a major say in whom she will marry, assertive presence in family and career matters and knowledge about the world at large which is quaint as it is wonderful.
Unfortunately, however, the change we have just talked of represent changes in the material realm. No doubt we found Indian women emancipated to a considerable extent, even though we have not been able to do away with the evils of dowry, bride burning etc. completely. Nevertheless Indian women today represent a class prepared to take full advantages of economic liberalization and equality of opportunity.