Aug 14, 2008

[Fashion] Religious Accessorizing

:Image:Religious syms.png bitmap traced (and h...Image via Wikipedia I admit that despite being a gay man, I'm hardly within that stereotype where we're supposed to all be good at interior design and fashion. However that doesn't mean I'm not entitled to my own opinions about such matters. Like with art and the criticism of such, I may not be an educated expert, but I do know what I like.

One thing that always irks me about the "fashion" scene locally is the obsession with with the use of items associated with religions as accessories. You know what I mean - people take an item with religious significance or association and turn it into an every day faux fashion accent. I think it's even worse with the local gay scene since obviously most of us aren't religions since in one way or another, we're breaking some religious convention here or there. So why deliberately use a religious icon - why flaunt the trappings of religion and not mean it?

I think my irritation started with Buddha Beads - mainly the extra-large necklaces that people would drape around themselves as they went shirtless at clubs. Clearly these items had religious significance in terms of Buddhist culture and yet people just used them as some way to try and get people to look at their chests as they danced to songs clearly not espousing the values of Buddhism. At the same time, most of the guys I've encountered weren't even the least bit inclined towards this particular faith.

Then came the giant rosaries, which seemed even more ironic and insulting. True, I was raised Catholic and perhaps that's where some of my indignation lies despite my being Agnostic these days, but that doesn't dispel the fundamental truth that there's a lot of meaning put into rosaries as icons and here we are using them as another chest-directing item. These people (1) aren't trying to tell the world their Christian, (2) aren't deliberately making some sort of statement against the Christian faith and (3) in most cases just thought it looked cool or that it was "in" somehow. Good grief.

These days my current fashion pet peeve has to be the prevalence of Muslim scarves or Hijabs. Again, it's an item with a strong religous association (whether or not it deliberately relates to a religious activity such as rituals or prayer). The true usage of this of course is to cover women and espouse virtues of purity and modesty but these days guys around the metro wear them like...*shudder*...scarves. In a tropical country. Freaking scarves! Clearly, the weather hasn't gotten that cold (and probably won't until the islands return to the sea) and so there can't be a practical purpose to the wearing of such items nor are they trying to claim to be modest in anyway.

Whether in the middle of the night or in the heat of the morning sun, the sight of a person wearing this piece of fabric in a scarf-like fashion just doesn't make sense to me. They're not Muslim, in most cases, nor are they trying to make a political or religious statement nor are they trying to associate with the plight of Muslim Mindanao or something to that effect. It's just what "seems" to be cool.

My core point is that as much as I respect the quirks of fashion, I don't think we should be using religious icons and artifacts to dress up our outfits. These are items of importance and meaning to their respective cultures and organized religions and we have no place belittling them and turning them into items of no meaning nor should we be trying to constantly use them as some sort of a statement against the religion in question (which is not often the case). People, think about what you're wearing! Think about what it's supposed to mean?

Respect for other beliefs is key, in my mind. Tolerance begins with treating other views (opposing or otherwise) with the respect they deserve in order to get respect in turn. What's happening with such religiously-associated fashion trends is just plain wrong and downright tacky.


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