Let’s have a moment of brutal honesty, shall we?

I’m speaking as a woman raised in the west when I tell you that it’s incredibly frustrating to be a strong, independent and powerful woman in Southeast Asia. My frustration stems from a bevy of reasons, but it is never more salient than when I’m trying to shop for clothes. (I emphasize the word trying).

For the time being, let’s forget about frustrations with difference in sizes, body types and/or curves.

Today I’d prefer to rant about how I find it insulting to look at women dressing like children. When I walk into a store for women, I don’t want to try on foo-foo frills, lace, ribbons, bows or ballerina skirts. And for Pete’s sake – enough with the frilly white socks.

Ladies, if you dress like little girls, you can expect to be treated like girls. And frankly, I don’t want to see you in the professional sphere, where I’m trying to earn some respect in a world where women are still paid substantially less than a man, and are virtually nonexistent in the highest levels of management. Women of Southeast Asia, the little kitties on your sweater aren’t helping.

Furthermore, will wearing cutesie dresses and hello kitty earrings and sailor costume-esque dresses find you a quality man? NO. It will find you a pedophile or a chauvinistic fool. And in the meantime, it undermines the rest of your fellow sisters who are trying to be classy and beautiful women who are respected for their intellect, their accomplishments, and their vibrant personalities.

Whether we like it or not, our clothes send a message about ourselves to the rest of the world. And if I’m on the MRT in the morning and I can’t tell if you’re the boss, if you’re going to work for the boss, or if the boss is your daddy, then the message is clear: we have a real problem on our hands.

So put away the butterfly belt.  You can be feminine and sexy without dressing like a 5 year old. It’s perverted and you’re doing your sisters a disservice.