Posted by Barkha Shah
I need pockets. No, not pockets of time or opportunity or success. Well, maybe that too. But what I need is something functional and practical for my clothes.
I do not want to carry a purse with me all the time just for my house keys and phone or some cash. I need pockets that keep my hands free so that when my toddlers refuse to come back home from the play area, I can take them in my arms and distract them with butterflies and flowers.
I need my hands free so that when I step out to the gate to collect my deliveries, I can carry my bags without the need to take a purse along just for house keys.
I need my hands free so that I can go for morning walks without worrying about my sling bag swinging along.
I need my hands free to step into meetings with just a laptop in hand and not a phone in another.
Yes, bag designers have been very creative over the years, designing everything from hobos to totes and duffels. But really, I want to be able to make that choice to carry a bag or not. Some brands have come up with kurtas, pyjamas and pants with pockets for women. But it isn’t as regular a feature as pockets for men. And many a times, even when pockets are added, they are not functional or ample enough.
Apparently, centuries ago, when men’s clothes were sewn with pockets, women’s clothes were left out for a very sexist reason–to suit slimmer silhouettes (think corsets). The Rational Dress Society, that was founded in 1891, even pushed for equity by encouraging women to dress for comfort and health rather than “beauty” and “decoration”. Yet, even after so many years, a lot of women’s clothes are designed without pockets.
Many attribute this to the dominance of male designers in the fashion industry. Some even say that the fashion industry does not want to lose out the revenue generated by the sale of bags. And several others say that the fashion industry wants its women thin. So, skinny jeans and body-hugging clothes cannot really carry huge pockets. Even when jeans/pants are created loose/functional for women, they are called mommy pants or boyfriend jeans, taking away the glamour from these clothes. After all, sexy is slim; beautiful is skinny, isn’t it?
In India, where many women still wear sarees for daily use, Chennai based Sri Kumaran Stores came out with a novel concept of sarees with pockets. These were embroidered and sewn over the sarees and could carry perhaps a phone or some cash. Sarees with pockets, however, are not commonplace even now. Most women who wear sarees still carry purses or tuck in small pouches in their blouses.
It’s alright if pouches or purses are more comfortable for some. But give us the benefit of choice. Don’t tell us slim is beautiful. Don’t force down our throats clothing that makes us difficult to breathe. Don’t call loose clothes, ill-fitting. Don’t make us worry about our failing memory when we lose our keys or phone just because we chose to skip the purse.
Our society’s Whatsapp group usually has images of phones and keys lost around play areas, perhaps by the mothers who chose to carry them in pram pockets or in their hands. This phenomenon is global too. When the UK’s Royal Automobile Club did a survey in 2018, they found out that every year around $300 million worth of money was getting lost on car keys, with the primary contributors to this fact being women.
Isn’t it time to reclaim the pockets? Isn’t it time we make them gender-neutral? Isn’t it time women get to choose between pockets or not? Isn’t it time we stop defining beauty as being slim? If pockets mean freedom for many, isn’t it time to create a world where that’s easily accessible?
Barkha Shah is a freelance writer and digital marketing strategist based out of Bangalore. Her work experience spans the journalistic field, a start-up and a global digital marketing agency. She has studied and worked both in the US and in India and is currently kept occupied primarily by the mischief of her child.