Is Pakistan’s Obsession with Branded Clothing Toxic for Women’s Growth?
“I am mazloom because I can’t afford it” is a very common thought that a lot of middle-class parents hear from their daughters and it is heartbreaking for them. Quite often they go out of their way to provide what their daughters want and end up working overtime. Or, in most cases, they have to borrow huge sums which they know will take ages to pay off. In the past, desi mothers used to make some gold jewelry for their daughters when they had some savings, something as small as a ring or a pair of earring. But now these pieces aren’t worth more than two lawn dresses of their beloved daughter.
The never-ending race to buy overpriced branded items has murdered any humility that might have been left within us. We are all like wild horses that have no idea why they are continuously running.
Let’s be courageous enough to openly talk about how Pakistani women’s obsession with brands is destroying the very fabric of the society.
- A Culture of Competition
Sometimes we only buy clothes for showing off, if not consciously then subconsciously. And if your husband didn’t get you a branded dress for your birthday then he doesn’t love you as much as your friend’s husband loves her. Or if your mom didn’t let you buy that branded kurta for Eid because it was heavy on her pocket, she doesn’t care about you like your friend’s mom cares about her daughter. The only concern women have nowadays is about their latest social media update and how to wow their followers with the latest overpriced branded item in their collection.
- Fast Growing Class Differences
People belonging to the lower middle class often strive to climb the social ladder and become a part of the upper middle class. In the same way, the upper middle class wants to do all it can to become a part of the elite class. The elites are often the only respected group in the country while those below them on the social spectrum are constantly overawed by their living standard. While on the other side, the impoverished and lower income groups live in a vicious cycle of making ends meet where their biggest concern is to manage do waqt ki roti. Remember the French Revolution and that story about the French public protesting against authorities in front of the royal palace where a princess innocently asked her minister the reason for these protests? On being told that the people were protesting against the monarchy because they had no bread to eat, to which she shockingly replied, “So why don’t they eat cake?” Similar class differences are now very much a part of the Pakistani society where the rich get richer by the day while the poor spend all their lives surviving in the vicious circle of making ends meet.
- Food for Materialism
The fanaticism for wearing cool brands gradually makes an individual completely materialistic, resulting in a corrupted soul with a superficial mindset. Sadly, the useless morning shows and drama serials on Pakistani TV channels are poisoning women’s minds with a lavish and extravagant display of fancy clothes. Since almost every woman spends her free time in front of the TV, they are heavily influenced by these displays of incredible excess. The average Pakistani woman has no idea that the big name celebrity hosts and guests they see on morning shows (and other talk shows) are mostly paid to advertise their outfits. Or that it takes hours to get them ready to face the camera. But the average woman sitting at home is completely unaware of this part of the game. She is too overawed by what she sees on TV and all she can think of is to get her hands on those seemingly magnificent overpriced branded outfits.
- Feeling of Deprivation
No matter how good your self-control is, if all you see around is an advertisement of so and so brand’s newest collection, you will surely start wanting the same thing for yourself even if the prices are beyond your means. Now, let’s assume for a second that you have a pretty good job and you can purchase a popular piece of clothing from a major brand quite easily and without breaking the bank. But when some less well-off relative of yours sees you wearing your brand new outfit, they will eye that dress out with sheer hasrat. And when you wear this dress at work, your colleagues will either be jealous of you or the inferiority complex will kill them from the inside.
- False pride
If you belong to a class where you will not be asked where you spent your money or your mother is the one that supports it, then you will start to have a false pride. Such people tend to look down on others who don’t wear or supposedly cannot afford branded clothes. All this, despite the fact that just a couple of decades ago there weren’t many brands in the market and not much of an obsession with owning branded items.
It goes without saying that the women of this country need to get out of this unhealthy and fatal obsession. But before that could be done, they need to be sensitized about respecting people from less affluent backgrounds instead of looking down at them or ridiculing them in any way for having less. We need to rediscover that lost humanity once again. Otherwise, the very future of our society will be at stake.