All good rebels know that there are certain rules for dressing if you want to make it out of the house without a fight, and avoid hearing your mom bemoan what she did in her previous life to make you turn out this way.

This may pose interesting challenges when it comes to defining your personal style. But, don’t hide your “real” clothes in the bushes outside your home just yet! In this series, we’ll explore some of these seemingly outdated rules and ways to overcome them.

Rule #2:


Except me, I’m a rebel, remember?

Just like exposing your bare legs is frowned upon in conservative circles, naked arms also have the potential to incite disapproval.

Growing up, this manifested itself in the unspoken rule that a sweater must be worn over any sleeveless top if you didn’t want to become the recipient of unwanted stares or branded “indecent”. Thanks to the sweltering tropical weather, this additional layer also manifested itself in unsightly armpit stains – so much for people not staring.

Initially, I didn’t mind keeping myself covered up despite the perspiration involved; I was young and chubby after all, and hadn’t been introduced to the joys (and necessity) of hair removal.

But when I hit high school and all my baby fat finally melted away (well, at that point it might not have been baby fat anymore, but it was better than admitting it was Oreo fat) – and met my lifelong friend, Gillette – I was all for ditching that sweater and letting my arms run free like the wild, uncoordinated limbs they are.

Except anytime I tried to prance around in something sleeveless, it was still met with, “Why aren’t you wearing a sweater over that?” And trust me, that’s not so much a question as it is a demand, despite all my best justifications:

“But it’s as hot as a shirtless Hrithik Roshan outside!” Nothing.

“Nobody checks out arms! Who’s even sexually attracted to flab?” Zilch.

“What if I didn’t wear deodorant to scare away any would-be predators?” Nope.

So obviously, knowing I wasn’t going to win this one, I just put on my grandma-esque cardigan without any further debate… well, until I was a safe distance away from prying eyes, and that sweater was quickly shoved into the depths of my purse.

That’s the thing I never understood about this “rule”; I mean, if you’re walking out of the house wearing a sequin miniskirt, and there are bits of fringe peeking out from underneath a puffy jacket, isn’t it a dead giveaway that one of those items clearly doesn’t belong?

But for some reason, on and on we do this dance. We try our best to appear decently dressed in front of people who may take offense, but we shed our proverbial sweaters as soon as we’re free.

Is it one of those “out of sight” things that we do in the name of respect? Like how thee might articulate thyself in thy poshest speech around elders, but eff it, we gon go f***ing cray with our hoodlum friends and pop a cap in yo ass! (Did I just age myself with my attempt to sound “cool”?)

I guess the difficulty I have with understanding this concept is: Do you lose your individuality if you’re constantly trying to appease others? Should you give up wearing sleeveless tops just because someone else disapproves?

Most importantly, if you decide to cover up: Do you wear the sweater, or does the sweater wear you?


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