Why Can’t A Man Wear A Saree? Amit Bittoo Dey Asks

Amit Bittoo Dey
Amit Bittoo Dey, an interior designer and model, spoke to SheThePeople about how he is met with judgement and criticism just because he chooses to wear a saree and how he rises above it. Here’s his story:

“I’m a boy but my sisters would dress me up as a bride when I was 5. It’s the earliest memory I have of wearing a saree and that’s where my love for sarees and dresses comes from. Once I was a little older, my father asked my sisters to stop dressing me up as he did not approve of it. But I started missing all the make-up and jewellery. I’d skip playing cricket with the other boys to play dress-up in the room. I felt beautiful – as if that was my real self.

I was in 8th grade when my parents caught me in a saree. They were shocked -‘Yeh ladkiyo ke kapde kyu pehne hai?”, my father asked. I knew I had to confess– ‘Dad, I like wearing sarees”, I told. He was orthodox and asked me to keep my interests hidden, atleast till the time I became independent. My friends told me, ‘If you wear sarees and dresses, people will think you’re a transgender.’ For the next 7 years, I would drape sarees behind the closed doors of my room, but it felt suffocating.

When I started growing beard, I would shave before dressing up, but one day I put on a wig with a beard. It felt weird but I found my real self. In 2012, I finally broke it to my parents– ‘this is who I am – a bearded boy who likes to dress up’. They weren’t happy to hear that and asked me to leave the house. At 22, I left my parent’s house. Life was tough and I didn’t have a roof on my head. But at the same time, I felt free.

Suggested Reading: A Saree Doesn’t Have A Gender Says Pushpak Sen

I worked as a freelance photographer to support myself and decided to pursue a career in modelling as well. In no time my photos started appearing in the newspaper. Many praised and some criticised. But I had found a new confidence in embracing myself. There was no looking back! I would flaunt my gowns and sarees and wear bold colours on my face.

I am still teased, called a ‘chakka’ and assumed gay. But I never let any of it bother me. I was open to judgements and allowed people to view me just as they liked- that actually motivated me to paint a new look everyday. Today, I am an interior designer and a professional model who loves dressing up but I don’t prefer to call myself a drag queen. In fact I don’t want my identity to be limited to a title. I’m just a man who loves to wear sarees. Why is that such a big deal?”

Watch the video here. 

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