First Impressions of Indonesia
Walking the streets of Kupang for the first time was interesting, shocking and wonderful. As me and my tall parents passed the crowds of small Indonesians, loads of the boys or young men whistled and shouted. At first we thought it was because we were the only white people in the mass of people. But we soon realised that they weren’t talking to us. They were talking to my legs and my mum’s cleavage. I was wearing my usual outfit, shorts and a t-shirt. My mum was wearing a long dress that wouldn’t be considered low-cut in Australia, but it was here. Together, we scandalised the town.
Today, I wore a knee length dress with a highish neck-line. My mum wore a similar one. We still got some shouts, but people were talking to us. They were looking at our faces and asking our names. They would touch our hair and smile happily. And it made me feel like dirt. I completely understand the need to be respectful of other people’s cultures and religions, but when people think that the way I dress influences me as a person? That confuses me so much. I dress to be comfortable in the heat. I dress in a way that makes me feel good about myself. However, when I show my legs or shoulders and that makes people view me as if in exposing my body, they somehow own me, that makes me embarrassed and angry. It seems as if in wearing shorts, my body becomes separate from me. I also think, that if they want to stare at me and judge me for my un-modest outfit, that says more about them then it does about me. I wish I could be someone who laughs it off. But I’m not. It hurts when people judge me and shout and whistle. I’m thirteen. I’m still a kid. And I don’t want to have to think first about how others will see me if I wear a particular outfit.