Of miniskirts and mental health

We all know the endless debate within our community between “traditionalists” and “modernists” about assimilation. Post 9-11, this debate became broader and more politicized, especially w.r.t. British Muslims. In the UK, public figures argued that Muslims need to be more fully assimilated into British society if further violence was to be avoided. A variant of this argument claimed that the hijab and niqab should be discouraged or banned outright.

A new study out undermines the broad claims of the assimilationists, claiming that Brit-Bangladeshi girls (between 11 and 14 years old) “who wore traditional clothing were significantly less likely to have mental health problems than those whose style of dress was a mix of traditional and white British styles.” [Link]

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p>Interestingly enough, they found no effect of clothing choice on boys at all. To clarify, that means that a boy’s clothing choice didn’t influence his own happiness. I’m sure girls’ clothing choices have a strong impact on the happiness of an 11 to 14 year old boy . The “Brick Lane” hypothesis found little support.

Professor Kam Bhui, one of the study authors, said that the result was “surprising” - he had expected that girls who were less fully integrated to show signs of greater strain. “Traditional clothing represents a tighter family unit, and this may offer some protection against some of the pressures that young people face. What it suggests is that we need to assist people who are moving from traditional cultures and becoming integrated into Western societies, as they may be more vulnerable to mental health problems.”

Professor James Nazroo, a medical sociologist at the University of Manchester, said that the findings meant that “notions of Britishness” should be dealt with in a sophisticated way. “There are many ways in which people can be British – these girls who have good mental health, and still have a strong traditional culture, are by implication settled and comfortable with their identities…” [Link]

The article does not explain what researchers meant by traditional clothing. I think it means salvar kameez rather than the hijab/niqab, but am not sure. If so, it doesn’t really inform the debate about the veil at all. Nor does it speak directly to terrorism, or even to social alienation by adults.

<

p>Most importantly, I want to reassure all our readers that no matter how overwhelming the evidence collected, no matter how many studies pile up, I’m sure that Gurinder Chadha’s films will have exactly the same trite hackneyed plot that they did before.

The paper is available here. [Thanks Razib]

89 thoughts on “Of miniskirts and mental health

  1. 50 · portmanteau said

    I feel like you’re writing the story of my life here. Every morning when I peer into my closet, it takes so much self-control for me to stop myself from wearing thongs with impossibly low-rise jeans. I feel so lucky that I have not suffered a series of Janet Jackson-esque wardrobe malfunctions, especially as I wear the shortest dresses and the lowest-cut blouses. Really, I must be like Draupadi whose modesty was preserved thanks only to the infinite grace of almighty Krishna.

    Hahaha, too good!

  2. Razib – When i said whites, I meant Euros in this case. and yes Euros are dangerous to their minorities. They’ve been pretty good since WWII, but before that they were stuffing Jews in ovens. We’ve been through this before. Before the Holocaust, Jews were living it up and were fully integrated and elite generally in European society which was culturally rich and on top of the world.

    It took about 10 years for that all to change in Germany and in other places. Like your man Atran said, civilization is intermittent and I think day to day civility is even more intermittent. Euro nationalists use almost scientific racist language against their Muslim minorities. The whole question of do Muslims follow Sharia or the law of the land has word for word parallels with “Do Jews follow Talmudic law or the law of the land ? Can they become European?”

    You can point out thing like 7/7 and the Madrid bombings. But the fact is that Muslims that came to England in the 70s were commonly beaten up and harrased by working class white hooligans. Basically your dad and my dad would’ve gotten fucked up back in the days. The younger cats saw that and didnt want to get fucked up so they started getting hard and so it goes.

    There was a national political party that wanted them out of the country before all this terrorist shit started popping. So do the terrorist attacks make people angry at Muslims in Europe? Yes. Would many people still get angry at Muslims if there were no terrorist attacks? Yes. Violently so. Muslims are to Europe what Mexicans/Latinos are to America.

    Also, for the most part those nationalist groups pick up the whites that don’t socialise with Muslims much. Europe also has a urban youth culture where Muslims and everybody else gets along pretty much fine. Matter of fact, many times Muslims are the trend setters in these settings. So Muslims as a whole are getting along in many spots in Europe. Are they great? No, in relation to their North American counterparts the’yre not but America kicks Europe’s ass in everything.

  3. 38 · Amitabh said

    What many Muslims who feel that way don’t realise or won’t admit is that the more ‘Islamic’ you make a place, the more it will resemble Afghanistan under the Taliban. Inevitably.

    i agree. those people are also the ones that think the sari is unislamic, women should wear salwaar kameez or robes, and also would rather be part of pakistan than have bangladesh be an independant country!

  4. 38 · Amitabh said

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    blockquote>

    No youre wrong. Iran became “Islamic” and is very different from Afghanistan. They have a dynamic civil society which uses Islamic concepts to argue for more freedom and a liberal state. They’re probably closer to democracy than any of the SECULAR dictatorships in the Middle East/Muslim world.

  5. Brilliant, portmanteau. Absolutely brilliant. :D And nevermind white boys – it’s going after those blacks, latinos and East Asians that sets the true sluts apart from the merely lasvicious.

  6. Bang Gully

    Razib – When i said whites, I meant Euros in this case. and yes Euros are dangerous to their minorities. They’ve been pretty good since WWII, but before that they were stuffing Jews in ovens. We’ve been through this before. Before the Holocaust, Jews were living it up and were fully integrated and elite generally in European society which was culturally rich and on top of the world. It took about 10 years for that all to change in Germany and in other places. Like your man Atran said, civilization is intermittent and I think day to day civility is even more intermittent. Euro nationalists use almost scientific racist language against their Muslim minorities. The whole question of do Muslims follow Sharia or the law of the land has word for word parallels with “Do Jews follow Talmudic law or the law of the land ? Can they become European?” Also, for the most part those nationalist groups pick up the whites that don’t socialise with Muslims much. Europe also has a urban youth culture where Muslims and everybody else gets along pretty much fine. Matter of fact, many times Muslims are the trend setters in these settings. So Muslims as a whole are getting along in many spots in Europe. Are they great? No, in relation to their North American counterparts the’yre not but America kicks Europe’s ass in everything.

    The only words I can elicit on this particular piece of ‘creative writing’ begin with W, T and F. Have you even been to Europe? I tend to err on the side of troll following those posts in the thread about marriage…

  7. Sorry to spam, but intern could you fix that post? Only the last three lines were written by me(props to whomever guesses which…)

  8. Europe also has a urban youth culture where Muslims and everybody else gets along pretty much fine. Matter of fact, many times Muslims are the trend setters in these settings. So Muslims as a whole are getting along in many spots in Europe. Are they great? No, in relation to their North American counterparts the’yre not but America kicks Europe’s ass in everything.

    Trend Setters in what??? I would really like to know?

  9. portmanteau Terrific repartee in # 50.

    However, our population of 1+ Billion does give some credibility to the “slut” argument. Or maybe males of the “Hindu persuasion” are more virile.

    Reminds me of the urinal stall graffiti “Gentlemen the future of India rests in your hands.”

  10. All this discussion about assimilation and not one mention of the Borgs?

    The Borg are irrelevant. Discussing them is futile. The Hindu sluts are already assimilated.

    Little known fact about the Borg:

    Seven of Nine had two sons, one with a Borg father and one with a human father. Both were named Bjorn. Bjorn Borg could play tennis exceedingly well, but his half-brother Bjorn Bog could play only on clay courts.

  11. Every morning when I peer into my closet, it takes so much self-control for me to stop myself from wearing thongs with impossibly low-rise jeans.

    portmanteau, for you, I will always stay in the closet.

  12. Meena (#56, #57) your English has really improved since you started commenting here. Does SM get some of the credit for this?

  13. 50 · portmanteau said

    I feel like you’re writing the story of my life here. Every morning when I peer into my closet, it takes so much self-control for me to stop myself from wearing thongs with impossibly low-rise jeans. I feel so lucky that I have not suffered a series of Janet Jackson-esque wardrobe malfunctions, especially as I wear the shortest dresses and the lowest-cut blouses. Really, I must be like Draupadi whose modesty was preserved thanks only to the infinite grace of almighty Krishna. Anytime I see a white boy, I find myself using all my feminine wiles to seduce him. I don’t how you know about my tendencies, but you do. Please propose a causal pathway that causes Hindu women to have sluttish tendencies. I need to know why I am like this, so I can take all the steps I possibly can toward being a more chaste woman. Help me, Rahul S. Save us, Rahul S. I imagine myself in a cotton sari reverently circling the Tulsi Ma at dusk. Only you can help me become the embodiment of our greatest traditions, and set me straight.

    Let me make a clarification. Many Hindu Gujrati girls in the U.S. tend to be sluts. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Many Indians girls in the U.S. are Gujrati, whose parents engage in the entrepreneurial spirit (such as owning motels, 7-11′s, Subways, etc). Therefore, being exposed to a risk taking philosophy, their daughters participate in reckless behavior such as I mentioned before. Maybe, a regression analysis study must be conducted to analyze the behavior of Gujurati Indian girls/young adults presently living in the U.S. Haha.

  14. 63 · Rahul S said

    Let me make a clarification.

    oh, your clarification makes you assertion so much better. and more accurate. you’re right — (i’m sindhi, so we can definitely extrapolate from Gujarati)my community’s preference for risky entrepreneurial activity is reflected in my slutty tendencies. not only can i not stay in a monogamous relationship, i insist on not using contraceptives during sexual encounters (i think about the risk-adjusted returns, which are fabulous, of course). i bring home partners (of all genders, in homage to my ancestors’ pre-victorian norms of indian sexuality) after meeting them once, and even when i’m completely smashed. you must be omniscient, dude, because it’s like you have your finger on the pulse of south asian women. (what to speak of pulse..given our loose ways, shiva knows your fingers could be anywhere. oh, you say you’re celibate. yeah, i thought as much. by choice, even? yeah, yeah i believe you.)

    PS: SM intern, can you at least reprimand this clown? spank him or something.

    rahul, (@61), just don’t be trapped in the closet. i couldn’t possibly take all the lies and the deceit, much less a hip-hopera (cf. r kelly). meanwhile, hear my predicament out. Rahul S, stands behind my left shoulder bringing me to the fold of the chaste, and on the right I have Dionysian Rahul, enticing me with dark closets and still darker secrets. I think the choice is quite clear — don’t you, reader?

  15. PS: SM intern, can you at least reprimand this clown? spank him or something.

    Careful, he might like it. Enterprising Hindu bhens I see an emerging business opportunity

  16. Amitabh, thanks! :) I don’t know if it’s due to SM, but it’s quite possible! Was my English that bad before?

  17. 65 · louiecypher said

    Enterprising Hindu bhens I see an emerging business opportunity

    Ah, for the day when a proud “Patel Sisters” sign will be visible atop a business establishment instead of ubiquitous “Patel Bros.” banner. We shall, uh, overcum overcome, someday. It is in these houses of brothely love will Apu’s hearty entrepreneurial “Thank you, come again” acquire a new resonance. It’s time we showed the men the RAR in risk-adjusted returns.

  18. Gujurati girls in Navaratri finery beating sex weary/jaded hedge fund managers with dandia sticks and making them eat dokla off the floor= $$$$

  19. Ah, for the day when a proud “Patel Sisters” sign will be visible atop a business establishment instead of ubiquitous “Patel Bros.” banner.

    Ms. Portmanteau Patel, please let me know if you want your tax returns inspected. Maybe you are interested in some shelters in the Caveymans?

  20. oh, you say you’re celibate. yeah, i thought as much. by choice, even? yeah, yeah i believe you.

    where is that paragon of decency when you need him to defend poor souls like rahul s?

  21. That’s a very interesting point. Not having to fit into skinny jeans can take a lot off one’s mind.

    Since I have a typical South Asian build (central obesity/ apple shaped), I would find it more of a worry having to look good in a traditional sari where so much of the fatty abdomen is exposed. :O

  22. 67 · portmanteau said

    65 · louiecypher said
    Enterprising Hindu bhens I see an emerging business opportunity
    Ah, for the day when a proud “Patel Sisters” sign will be visible atop a business establishment instead of ubiquitous “Patel Bros.” banner. We shall, uh, overcum overcome, someday. It is in these houses of brothely love will Apu’s hearty entrepreneurial “Thank you, come again” acquire a new resonance. It’s time we showed the men the RAR in risk-adjusted returns.

    Speaking of Patels, my study indicates there is a very very high correlation between Patels (both guys & girls) & slutty tendencies.

  23. please tell me i’m not the only one who sees a gross double standard here. i know it’s already been pointed out, but it still amazes me that girls were reported to have MORE mental health problems if they adopted western clothing styles! so, i guess my mild depression could be attributed to the fact that i don’t wear saris everyday. wonderful. so instead of actually helping people who have mentall problems, we should play “blame the victim” the way that people have done for thousands of years and tell that “hindu slut” (props to rahul for that one!) to wear that damn salwar kameez.

    plus, if the study did not specify what exactly “traditional” meant, what exactly “assimilation” meant, etc, then how the hell is this study supposed to be 100% accurate? i’m sick of these stupid, reductive men vs. women “scientific” studies.

    SM intern: i know rahul s has been commenting for a long time (and i understand that you guys like to play favorites in that department) but that hindu slut comment was completely uncalled for. granted, somebody called out his bullshit, but since when did sexist comments become the new SM trend?

  24. Many Hindu Gujrati girls in the U.S. tend to be sluts.

    Rahul S, what’s your definition of “slut”?

    The reason why so much internet (and otherwise) communications are scarred, resulting in so much misunderstanding and often vile emotions, is because we fail to define what we mean.

  25. SM intern: i know rahul s has been commenting for a long time (and i understand that you guys like to play favorites in that department) but that hindu slut comment was completely uncalled for.

    Sista, don’t make me give another race speech. Should I now start making elaborate gestures instead?

  26. Guys and gals, please move from the slut topic. I let it go on b/c it was originally tongue in cheek, but the longer it persists the more real feelings will get hurt. If we’ve got nothing more to say on this topic, we can always close this thread down.

  27. 80 · Rahul said

    tell that “hindu slut” to wear that damn salwar kameez.
    Maybe it is because Indian men experience the Hindu rate of growth that Indian women are forced to such desperation?

    Alan Greenspan declared that the “Hindu rate of growth” is a derisive comment. Plus, the this rate of growth is no longer in play since India’s rate of growth is pretty high these days (9% or something like that). You better stop making those derisive comments buddy. Tsk Tsk.

  28. Rahul S, what’s your definition of “slut”? The reason why so much internet (and otherwise) communications are scarred, resulting in so much misunderstanding and often vile emotions, is because we fail to define what we mean.

    Yep, the real problem with the use of that word is definitional, not that it is judgmental. Personally, I have gone with the following definition: A person whose in-outs measured in a 24 hour period, and the 90th percentile computed over a period of 3 months or 80 “business” days, whichever “comes” earlier, meets or exceeds the normalized benchmark of 23.768 measured over an 18 month period from January 2006 – June 2007.

    Of course, there are some liberals who are arguing for a 99.999th percentile cutoff and a benchmark number of 97.356, whereas the conservative movement led by James Dobson is pushing for a 50th percentile cutoff over a period of 5 “business” days based on the intent of the founding fathers.

    There, the scab just fell off this internet communication. But mostly out of boredom, I think.

  29. 82 · Rahul said

    A person whose in-outs measured in a 24 hour period

    point of clarification: surely you don’t mean in-outs with a single partner over the course of a day? why should a woman be punished for the virility of her partner? secondly, with your sexist definitions, you are (re)producing patriarchal disciplinary norms. indeed, pseudo-scientific definitions that use dubious quantifiable metrics are privileging the objective over the subjective. traditional philosophy has associated the subjective with “emotional judgment,” a term that has been used throughout history describe the flaws of women’s moral psychology. (see the ‘Emotion in Philosophy’ section here). shame on you, rahul!

  30. why do they always use “traditional” to refer to non-western fashions? don’t south asian clothes have fashion trends? remember the MC Hammer style pants popular with a salwar kameez?

  31. Lets not confuse ‘Rahul’ (the star commentor with highly researched posts) with ‘Rahul S’ (bigotted posts).

  32. 86 · RC said

    Lets not confuse ‘Rahul’ (the star commentor with highly researched posts) with ‘Rahul S’ (bigotted posts).

    Yes, I was kidding around. If I confused Rahul S for Rahul, my life would be in danger of collapsing. Yeah, I’m serious.

  33. 86 · RC said

    Lets not confuse ‘Rahul’ (the star commentor with highly researched posts) with ‘Rahul S’ (bigotted posts).

    How am I bigot if I’m an equal opportunity hater?

  34. Matter of fact, many times Muslims are the trend setters in these settings.

    I don’t know what you’ve been reading or smoking, but its making you say some silly things dude.