Designer Ali Xeeshan’s Anti-Dowry Campaign Termed Ironic
Couture designer Ali Xeeshan’s 2021 anti-dowry catalogue has caused a bit of a stir on social media with people questioning the designer’s expensive bridal dresses. The latest catalogue features bridal dresses with the backdrop of dowry culture that is still prevalent in Pakistan.
With harrowing pictures, Xeeshan’s catalogue brings forward the ugly truth of Pakistani wedding culture. This dowry campaign is a collaboration between the designer and UN women organisation. The campaign is named “Numaish” meaning that a bride and the wedding is more of an exhibition where the bride is dolled up and then bought off.
UN Women Pakistan supports NUMAISH – a pledge against dowry by @ALIXEESHAN.
Share this powerful message and join us to #StopDowryMongering #NumaishNaLagao #JahezkhoriBandKaro@UN_Women @unwomenasia pic.twitter.com/4RCXWpkB9f
— UN Women Pakistan (@unwomen_pak) February 7, 2021
Though the campaign seems well-intended, many have criticised the designer for on one hand speaking up against dowry and on the other selling his dresses for a lot of money. Many have even said that the dowry backdrop is just another aesthetic for the designer to appear unique to his exclusive clientele.
Ali Xeeshan wants to highlight the dowry/shaadi finance issue while selling 12 lakh rupay ke lehngay, ok.
— N✨ (@__Dragunov) February 7, 2021
ali xeeshan be like say no to dowry instead buy lehnga worth lacs from me 🥰
— anastipu (@teepusahab) February 7, 2021
very hard for me to grasp the concept of Ali Xeeshan standing against dowry yet making bridal dresses worth millions
— 🍜 (@rameensak) February 8, 2021
Having said that, the campaign has started a discourse around dowry which is a menace that continues to negatively impact the lives of women. People may not exclusively ask for it but it’s a given because families feel they can’t let their daughters go until or unless they’ve provided them with everything. Families who cannot afford dowry do not find a suitable match for their daughter.
The regressive societal norms and conditioning that we’ve upheld over the years has come to shape our mindset. In a society where a woman is not allowed to exercise her rights – that is if she’s given any- dowry is just another way that dehumanises women and equates them to mere objects who’s isn’t worth anything in itself until it’s accompanied by an entourage of other things.
Dowry is just one more regressive practice that is part of the toxic and extravagant wedding culture that exists in Pakistan.