How do women look?
Many people may agree with the statement that ‘first appearance is not very important’; while there are some who may not. However, appearance is one of the most important factors that would make people want to talk to you, or even want to be with you during your first meeting. In other words, first sight judgment is very important. First sight judgment in most cases is used by people to define you and rarely do people change their first time perception of a person. Even before you talk, your way of doing things, your dressing code and general appearance may be used by people to identify your religion or culture. It is no wonder that Arabian women are easy to identify even though it is said that they are forced by their religion and culture, women in Arabian culture, unlike in US culture, choose what they wear out of their religion and cultural values.
Just to emphasize on how dressing can help people identify where an individual comes from, I’m going to talk about the difference between women’s clothing in Arabian culture and US culture. In the Arabian culture, dressing code for women is under very strict rules unlike in the case of their male counterparts. This situation has made some people point it out as a form of oppression to the women. Since the Arabian world is quite wide, the attires are different although they put similar values on women dressing code. For instance, ‘niqabs’ are worn by Saudi Arabian women, while in other countries women have ‘hijabs’ and others ‘burkas’ all which serve the same purpose-covering the head (WriteWork contributors, 2004). The ‘hijabs’ are the most common and they are not only religion dressing code but they are also one of the earliest attire in their history.
According to their religion which is mostly Islamic, the ‘hijab’ is meant to cover a woman so that people, and especially men, will not admire her by her look. This is said to help in reducing sexual immorality and helps in reducing infidelity in marriages. Women in the US on the other hand are less restricted by culture on what to wear (Sondag, 2011); freedom of dressing is given and many of them even wear jeans and shirts, short dresses and they do not need to cover their hair. Except for Muslim women and a few religious women who cover their hair, exposing the hair has no cultural meaning in the US.
Women dressing in the US is rarely restricted apart from may be in the workplace and in schools (Sondag, 2011); however, in a social setting it is no big deal to find women in attires such as shorts and bikini which are considered a violation of cultural values in Arabian world. These differences in dressing happen because of the difference in values and traditions and also in religion perspectives.
A look into the US and Arabian religion and culture differences exposes complexities in how the two cultures take things. For instance, from a religious point of view of the Muslims, women should expose very little of their bodies; most preferably only the eyes and hands. Such a woman is not only respectful to the religion but she is also highly regarded by the community for good outward look. On the other hand, still in the US culture, women belonging to other religions are difficult to identify by their way of dressing. This is because it is usually a personal choice rather than religion which dictates the way of dressing.
This freedom of dressing is however criticized in Arabia and it is in fact taken as disrespect to their religion. For example, if a woman wears a Bikini in Kuwait, it would look wearied, but if the same woman wears it in the US that would look so normal. On the same note, a woman wearing traditional Arab clothes in the US is easily identified because it is unusual, but if she wears it in Kuwait that would be something very common. Thus, the differences of the religion point of view, religion matters, and religion or cultural values are capable of shaping women’s way of clothing and hence their appearance.
Clothes affect a person’s personality in many different ways. In Arabian cultures, while a girl who wears jeans and shirt might be thinking that she is cool, a girl who wears Arabian traditional clothes thinks that she is very proud of her culture. To the other Arabians, girls who wear jeans and shirts show that they have abandoned traditions and customs and their personality is therefore judged by their manner of dressing. Girls who stick to traditional clothes even find it hard to hang out with those wearing jeans and shirts and this creates differences in socializing. Many Arabian parents who are strict on cultural values even advice their girls against associating with those who wear jeans as they think that they are morally evil (WriteWork contributors, 2004).
However, due to modern education which allows cross culture interaction, many school going girls in Arabia have been influenced by girls from other cultures (WriteWork contributors, 2004). This has in particular affected adolescent girls whereby those who adore traditional dressing are seen to have backwardness while those who dress in ‘modern clothes’ are said to be sophisticated. Arabian society form social attitudes from how people dress especially women. They particularly disregard the Western women for their dressing code and public behavior and even stereotype them as immoral and loose (WriteWork contributors, 2004).
The restrictions in Arab women dressing has however made it difficult for them to be engaged in some careers. For instance, it is difficult to find an Arab female soldier or a woman in a managerial position but this may be more because of gender discrimination in the workplace (WriteWork contributors, 2004). Globalization of market has affected the way people interact because in most cases business is now done between people of different cultures. This has affected the way Arabs treat business women from foreign countries and they have been forced to bend dressing rules (WriteWork contributors, 2004). However, to those who are conservative of their culture, they prefer not to do business with foreign women who do not dress as they expect. This is however one of the barriers to international trade. In the US on the contrary, it is unusual to find people forming social attitudes by looking at how others dress, dressing rules are mostly emphasized in business environment only (Sondag, 2011). In fact in the Western, way of dressing is used to show level of sophistication and fashion trend only (Sondag, 2011).
To sum up, the differences between the women in the Arabian culture and the US culture are very huge because of the religion and culture. However, the women in Arabian culture are much respected despite the restrictions in their dressing manner and they have the absolute freedom within the values of culture and religion. It is worth noting that appearance can be used to differentiate between a woman from the US and another one from Arabian countries just by their way of dressing. In my opinion, I think most of the women in Arabian culture are very happy with what they wear. This is because even when they visit the West, it is very hard for them to be influenced to change their dressing styles. In addition, they realize that dressing defines their personality and they are therefore careful in conserving their cultural values on dressing. On the other hand, in the US in spite of the freedom of dressing, there are situations which need modesty especially business environment. This implies that in spite of cultural or religion differences, dressing code is important for appearance and perception purposes.