States of Undress – Stephanie Poncin

Watching “States of Undress” was very informative about a culture that I have not learned a lot about. This film first connected with our course material when the exclusivity of alcohol was mentioned. As we learned, alcohol is illegal in Pakistan but there are such things as bootleggers from whom it can be bought. However, it is quite expensive so only the richer families can afford it which relates back to its exclusivity. Another reference was from the “West and the Rest” idea. Pakistan was actually influenced by the west in their music and fashions in the 1960’s, so they were not the “rest” that everyone thought of them as. Lastly, we see halfway through the film the denim industry in Pakistan. They are the 4th largest cotton producer in the world as well as the biggest in producing denim. The downside of this is that their energy shortage is keeping the country back from growing.

One thing I found interesting in the documentary was that fashion shows and events have also been victim to attacks. I knew that other places might have been targets but I never thought of a fashion show being one. Another interesting topic was the comparison of buying alcohol in Pakistan to buying marijuana in America. It might be the opposite now though since the purchasing of alcohol in Pakistan was said to be less of a crime 20 years ago while having marijuana on your person in America 20 years ago could put you in jail. Lastly, I knew of some Middle Eastern cultures favoring modesty in clothing but did not know where Pakistan stood on this topic. I figured they were the same but their runways were showing both conservative and unexpected designs.

One thing about “States of Undress” that I found difficult to understand was the fact that the denim made in Pakistan had to be exported, sold, worn, donated and shipped back to Pakistan as second-hand clothing for them to be able to wear it. I also did not understand why it was said that Pakistani women need to cover themselves because they are basically a threat to society and then later saying they are unuseful to society when disfigured. Lastly, it was difficult to understand that a husband would attempt to murder his wife because he was embarrassed by the way his peers reacted to how she dressed. Even as Hailey said, they could have spoken about it together.

A main point I took away from “States of Undress” was how much of a political statement the Pakistani fashion world made. Men who do not like they way their wife dresses will try to kill her while other designers are trying to be that voice for the women. Also, I liked how they said that Pakistan’s traditional dress is not a “religious” dress but it is their culture. If we were to connect Pakistani dress to being religious, that would be like comparing a geisha’s dress to the Japanese religion of Shinto. The last main point is how the men agreed that women can have their fashion but it is only subject to their approval since the man who said this tried to kill his wife for her fashion.

To a student who has not taken TMD 424, I would start by explaining how the burka is not an oppressive symbol. It is freeing to some women and there is even a show called “Burka Avenger” to show how empowering it is to be wearing one. Another thing I would explain would be that high precautions are taken against the Islamic State (like at the hotel) but their own women are not defended properly in the case of acid burns or attempted murder. Lastly, I would tell this TMD student that Pakistan is a growing country that has come to a halt trying to defend themselves against the Islamic State and therefore is in an energy crisis.



2 thoughts on “States of Undress – Stephanie Poncin

  1. i agree with you especially about how they could manage the safety and security in the hotel but not for a women burned by her husband or his family, also i want to to explain more of “Pakistan is a growing country that has come to a halt trying to defend themselves against the Islamic State.”. please.

  2. So what I meant by that was that when Hailey met with the man discussing their power shortages, he said that the country spent most of their money protecting the country against ISIS. This then lead to the power shortage because the country cannot afford power.

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