During my childhood, I had been conditioned to speak, sit, behave in a way, that is more girl-like and comes across as perfect. It all seemed very natural till I grew up and realised, that being well-behaved is not the job of a girl alone and no one can be perfect. But that idea of ‘perfection’ or ‘being perfect’ was too deep rooted that it took me a while to understand this.
What does perfect mean anyways? As per the dictionary, it means –having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be. But can this ever be true? Can we tick all the boxes? I do not have all the qualities that make me desirable. I can be a recluse one day and a social butterfly the other (read; moody). I gossip with my friends. I am always not on my best behaviour. I make mistakes at work. I am sometimes rude to my friends and family. But I am aware of my shortcomings and I keep working on them. By working on it, I do not mean achieving perfection. Because, then I would be God.
In this picture below, is the fisherman imperfect and me perfect? Just because I am dressed in a certain way with make-up on my face and hair done up? He is a star at his job. Has a skill which I do not have. Knows his business. The idea of perfection is so blurred that it will take us ages to understand it.
In this whole perfect-imperfect game, I had been a serious victim of fast fashion. There was a time when I used to buy new clothes for every wedding, event, puja. Entering a mall would mean, coming out with at least one bag of new clothes. The reason for this was to look my best always. To wear the latest fashion. To stand perfect amongst others. Over time, I realized that this holds no good to me or my surroundings. Choosing the sustainable route wasn’t easy. This is because shopping was a habit and we all know how difficult it is to let go of habits.
Let me tell you how the journey started. One day, a friend of mine generally shared a video on one of our Whatsapp group. I usually don’t check videos, but she sent it with a MUST WATCH text. That video was a dirty picture or harsh reality of how every cloth is choking our environment. I could see how our underwater life is getting over because of plastic waste which included microfibers from cheap clothing. The landfills are filling up with 60% all clothes produced, within a year! This was alarming. I was one of those responsible for the above destruction.
Sharing few bits on how I converted into a conscious consumer of fashion:
- I took out all the clothes from my cupboard and was shocked to see the number of clothes I have. That itself was a wakeup call.
- While going through the clothes, I saw some which still had tags on them, some were worn just once and few I did not even remember existed. I segregated the clothes as per colour to make it easy for me to pick and choose on a regular basis. This helps us in knowing that we have enough blacks/whites/reds. Else, we always end up picking up products, thinking we do not have that colour.
- Clothes which I was sure will not be worn by me again, was distributed amongst a few friends who wanted them.
- The average amount that I would spend on shopping per month got converted into a SIP amount. That helped me cap the money.
- For weddings and functions, I styled my existing clothes differently and borrowed a few outfits from friends.
- It was initially difficult to walk into malls and not shop. But I did not lose grip. What I focussed on was the amount of clothes already resting in my wardrobe. After 10 months of this journey, I comfortably walk through stores, look at all the new clothes and walk out empty handed
Today, while I write this, I feel good about myself. It is not just a way of giving back to the environment, but also feeling good about who I am today. So many people have asked me, how did I just stop shopping? Like I said it wasn’t easy. I have shopped exactly 3 things in 10 months. And all 3 have been products that are custom-made and not fast fashion.
This saree from BlessingnLove is handmade. It took Priyanka and her artisans 14-15 days to make this Ajrakh hand-block saree. She used khadi as the base fabric. All-natural colours were used in making this saree. I like how the artisans added some nice zari on the border to give it a fancier look.
Now another thing is, sustainability is not about completely letting go of your shopping desires. One of the elements of sustainable fashion is buying high quality products which are ethically made and are good for the environment. Yes, they will be expensive than one of your buys from an online fast fashion store. But what if you saved up for that one timeless piece which will last you much longer and not harm the environment as much as fast fashion does? That would be the game changer.
I am huge fan of Kate Middleton who with so much class and grace, repeats her clothes. The media at times can be a bad influencer as well (I am a media professional myself). I have seen articles calling out celebrities who repeat their clothes. Now that kind of trolling needs to stop. If our media is not responsible enough to educate people on serious issues like these, who else will? A whole generation is growing up reading articles on fashion. Media needs to stop painting the wrong picture of perfection and we need to stop buying it. Remember, we are not aiming towards being picture perfect. We are aiming to be responsible adults who can make some change within themselves and outside of it. Finding beauty in imperfection is the key to everything.
About the photographer: Bhavesh began his journey in photography through the lens of his father’s old Kodak camera, using it as an afterschool hobby. He has a minimalist approach to photography. He allows people, landscapes, and architecture to set the staging of the photograph while he captures the natural candid moment. He does not rely heavily on artificial light or digital editing but prefer to focus on the story behind the picture and let the ambiance of the setting encapsulate the viewer in the world of the photograph. This approach to photography has led him to enjoy street and fashion photography ten folds.