When Tasnim Jara got married recently, she walked into her wedding reception wearing her grandmother's cotton saree and chose not to wear any makeup or jewellery.
Jara, who is the President of Aroggo, a healthcare crowdfunding platform in Bangladesh, faced resistance when taking the decision. Some family members even told her they wouldn't take a photograph with her since she had not dressed like a (stereotypical) bride.
Earlier this month, Jara put out a Facebook post explaining why she took the step and what it meant to her.
The post went viral with over 30k shares and struck a chord with many on the internet.
Jara's piece in its entirety has been reproduced here with her permission.
I walked into my wedding reception wearing grandmotherâ€™s white cotton saree with zero makeup and no jewellery. Many asked me why. So here is my reason.
I was troubled by the singular image of a bride that our society has â€“ with tons of makeup, a weighty dress and mounds of jewellery weighing her down. Donâ€™t be fooled, this lavish image of a bride does not represent the financial well-being or agency of a woman in the family. This sometimes rather happens against their will. As if the society has decided that if we really have to spend money on women, we spend it against their will and for a cause that wonâ€™t do them any good.
I have hardly attended any wedding where I didnâ€™t overhear people gossiping: â€śIs the bride pretty enough?â€ť â€śHow much gold does she have on?â€ť â€śHow much did her dress cost?â€ť Growing up listening to these questions, a bride feels pressured to look for the best makeup artist in town, pays a hefty amount in time, money and energy, and ends up looking nothing like herself; because the society constantly reminds her that her actual skin colour isnâ€™t good enough for her own wedding.
She has learnt from her aunties, peers, and the corporates that a bride is â€śincompleteâ€ť without ornaments; that her and her familiesâ€™ status depends on how much gold she puts on on the day. She can hardly afford to question if the amount of jewellery she puts on can indeed determine her and her familiesâ€™ dignity. Because the society keeps pushing with, â€śYouâ€™re a girl. Why wouldnâ€™t you wear gold on your wedding?â€ť
Again, to look like a bride, she needs to wear a crazy expensive dress, which ironically makes walking difficult for her (due to its weight) and never comes of any use after the wedding. But the society wonâ€™t accept it any other way.
Donâ€™t get me wrong, if a girl wants to use make-up, jewellery and expensive clothes for herself, I am all in for that. But it is a problem when she loses her agency in deciding what she would like to wear on her wedding day. When the society forces her to doll up and look like a different person, it gives a message that the authentic look of a girl isnâ€™t good enough for her own wedding.
Personally, I feel that we need to change this mindset. A girl should not need a whitening lotion, a gold necklace or an expensive saree to be accepted as a bride or to make her feel confident. So I arrived at my wedding venue wearing my daduâ€™s saree, with zero makeup and no jewellery. People may call it simple, but it was very special to me, for what I believe in and what it means to me.
I faced a lot of resistance from many quarters after making this decision. Certain members of my family even said that they wonâ€™t take any photo with me because I didnâ€™t dress like (they imagine) a bride. Shoutout to the few family members who have supported me in this, and special shoutout to this person beside me, Khaled, who has not only supported me unconditionally but also beamed at me with so much pride, for taking a stance against the stereotypes.