In the previous post, I have mentioned that Malay women had become a shame in society.By following the fashion trend of America blindly, they were thrown with judgement and criticism on their improper attire that portray sexuality in a negative way.
image above shows the malay women were exposing their body by wearing bikini in public through the beauty contest in Singapore and Malaya that highly advertise by Asmara. As you may seen from the illustration, there were three malay men who were wearing traditional songkok shown their shock expression when seeing such scene and through the expression, I personally feel that they were disgust with it.(Scholarbank.nus.edu.sg, 2015)
True, we cannot deny that modernity is very important, but we must be aware on the balance of implying western culture to prevent of being consciously trapped by the larger propaganda such as American Way. During that period, women seem to go too wild with the mindset of sexy is pretty. However, modesty seemed a universal quality that malay women had that time. Such quality was seen by both local and western men. Modesty was seen as a universal quality – a quality that Malay men prized in Malay women. Articles written by Western men were used to affirm and assure Malay women that their modesty was the quality that men found most irresistible and pleasing. While chasing for western high fashion, such quality is slowly disappear among the malay women. (Scholarbank.nus.edu.sg, 2015)
Furthermore, representation of women’s dress reflected not just femininity and sexuality but it became the symbols of nation.Act of beautifying themselves and chasing for fashion become Malay women’s daily routine at that time just like how Asmara beheld the view that “fashion is the most indicative marker of everyday living “ In addition, fashion becomes a language, which allowing malay women communicate with each other silently. It also provide a platform for social discussion to be carried out..(Scholarbank.nus.edu.sg, 2015)
awareness of loving own culture is being raised, the society began realised the importance of maintaining their own beauty. Kebaya is widely used and being accepted for all Malay women. Kebaya begins with the song Nona Singapura which describing women were swaying hips portraying their sexiness through kebaya. (Scholarbank.nus.edu.sg, 2015)This became a hot mouthful topic at that time as there were arguments about the meaning of the song in both positive and negative way. I personally feel that kebaya shows femininity and sexuality well and in a polite way. It is a dress that allow the wearer to make alterations on their own whether they maintain the traditional looking or remix some of the western elements to look modern but without losing ethnic distinctiveness.
Being the nation’s personification, the Malay woman wearing the symbol of the kebaya projected this unitary starting point of the political thought of the Malayan. Fashion and garment industry become one of the new economies of Malaya.
Scholarbank.nus.edu.sg, (2015). [online] Available at: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/bitstream/handle/10635/15580/Kartini02Chap.pdf?sequence=3 [Accessed 26 Jun. 2015].