Look closer at 'freedom' that binds women to fashion norms

I understand Mr Francis Cheng's point that "it is one's personal right to choose how one dresses in public" ("Respect women's right to dress how they like in public"; Monday).

Nevertheless, it seems overly simplistic to suggest that the way a person is dressed should have no impact on how others regard and behave towards him or her.

All forms of expression, including how one dresses, carry a message. Otherwise, the expression would be meaningless. Freedom of expression also comes with responsibility for the impact made by the expression.

Mr Cheng stated that "modesty is a choice and not a requirement". However, where there is a choice, there inevitably is a set of consequences for that choice.

Perhaps a deeper challenge to the women of our times is to ask if we want fashion and advertising trends to dictate what we should wear and how we should behave, in order to be deemed attractive and confident.

The "freedom" that is sold unceasingly to women by the people who have control in the fashion and merchandise industry ironically seems to bind us to fashion norms that threaten authentic femininity.

Carmen Tan Kah Min (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2016, with the headline 'Look closer at 'freedom' that binds women to fashion norms'. Print Edition | Subscribe