Bangladeshi New Women’s ‘Smart’ Dressing: Negotiating Class, Culture, and Religion
This chapter places respectable femininity at the centre of the construction and performance of new womanhood among affluent middle-class women of Dhaka, Bangladesh. I study women’s hybrid sartorial practices to investigate how new women merge the boundaries of respectable middle-class Bengali cultural attire of sari and salwar kameez with working-class Islamic religious attire of hijab and upper-class and Western women’s sexualised attires, a hybrid aesthetic practice which I call smart dressing. New women’s practices of smart dressing distinguish them as a symbolic group challenging the boundaries of tradition and modernity, local and global, and provide an image of womanhood that is contrary to the poor, uneducated, traditional, bound by religion, sexually constrained, and victimised ‘third-world woman’.
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