"Why can't you dress like normal Pakistani women?" asked my then husband, disgruntled at my choice of Western attire - a pair of jeans. "Don't wear pants to the court if your moral character is on the line", said my lawyer when a custody battle brewed. "But you dress in a certain way that invites too much attention", said my boss pointing to my jeans, when I complained about sexual harassment at the workplace.
My pants have been of great interest to many in my past life.
Interestingly enough, they have continued to attract attention in my new life, albeit for different reasons.
In all my new interactions, before anyone even begins to make an effort, I provide enough evidence to discourage any respect or sensitivity expressed due to my association with my religion. With that out of the way, it leaves the female kind astonished that I still choose to wear pants each day, even in the scorching heat (by Canadian standards), even when my legs are shaved!! Everyone wants to take me shopping for an educational trip. Eager to integrate some more, I finally yielded and bought myself a 'professional looking' pencil skirt as per standards and instructions. It was an exciting day for me to mark the end of my suppression as I tried my newfound symbols of freedom.
I could not walk. I found the skirt's inability to stretch enough for human-sized steps strangely confining and honestly confusing. I was unable to sit with my legs uncrossed unless I was compelled or willing to flash others. Bending down for any purpose was completely out of the question. I was not womanly enough for the skirt.
My next investment was a nice summery skirt instead, with an acceptable circumference. I wore it on a day turned windy when both my hands were occupied with heavy bags of groceries.
Needless to say, I will be sticking to my pants for now. I have moved countries and continents and have therefore earned the right to feel anxious about letting go of my two-legged comfort zone that fits me very well. If that refutes the acceptable standards of beauty, gender or sexual stereotypes, I've been to the other side far enough not to care.