Anis presents the stories of Egyptian women who were sexually harassed in clothes they liked to wear, or fear sexual harassment if they wear their dream outfits. He tells us about sexual harassment in Egypt, how women’s clothes are policed, and how he conceived of the idea for this project. Each diptych below tells the story of one woman and the one outfit in her closet that she likes but finds difficult to wear.
The idea came to me after so many stories and complaints that I hear from a lot of close female friends – about their dreams of wearing dresses and their sadness in storing their nice clothes and not wearing them because of the fear of the street and society. It is a true story about almost every Egyptian girl or woman I know that you will always find something in her closet that she never wears or has worn only once, and never again because what she faced in the street or even among her own family and friends…if I cannot wear everything, I cannot think and speak about everything. If you find a society where people cannot wear what they want, I believe that they also cannot talk and think about all that they want or do not want.
Do you have clothes that you own but don’t wear in public? Tell us about your dream outfit, and send some pics @theladiesfinger!
Amira Mortada, 33 years old.
I’m a tomboy. I bought a pair of pants, which seemed very normal to me but I was surprised when I got harassed verbally while wearing them. I was annoyed and shocked to know that it happened because of the color of my pants. In the street, a girl becomes like merchandise. I decided since then never to wear it again.
Karoline Kamel, 29 years old.
Recently, I started to ride a bicycle in the streets of Cairo. It is hard to move with a bike in the street, whether because of the traffic, the harassment or the looks. To do this, of course, I have to wear loose fitting clothes, but I still dream of wearing whatever I want, like shorts and a nice shirt and move freely in the streets.
Aleya Adel, 20 years old.
I love colors and wearing niqab doesn’t mean you only wear black or dark colors, I wear anything as long as it’s loose fitting clothes and I’m covering my face. One time I was wearing this dress with butterflies on it and a man riding his bicycle stopped to tell me: ‘Is it the real Islam to wear colors under your Niqab?’ and then he spitted at me and went away.
Eglal Mahmoud Raafat, 74 years old.
Forty years ago, every girl used to wear whatever she wants and there was freedom and respect for women. Now all the girls are wearing a headscarf. I have a black dress that I remembered few days ago and I told myself I want to wear it but I have to wear something over it to cover my arms.
Shery Morkos, 33 years old.
My mother used to buy me a lot of lingerie for when I get married, just like a lot of mothers do for their daughters here in Egypt. I am not allowed to wear any of this stuff. My mother will be so angry at me if I do so because it’s saved for after I get married. I’m 33 and single. What if I didn’t get married?
Eman Helal, 30 years old.
I wait for the wedding of any of my friends to wear a dress and be like a real girl, but of course I can’t go out alone wearing it, someone has to be with me and preferably a male friend or relative. I’m waiting in vain for the next wedding to wear this dress.