As one of our staffers was driving to work one day she noticed not one, not two, not three, but seven hoardings sporting lawn adverts at a single roundabout, all featuring women in various iterations of the shalwar-kameez-dupatta that comprises our national dress.
Lawn is everywhere this summer: on our Instagram feeds, in our magazines, in public spaces, on celebrities, in stores, and, most importantly, on our backs.
But have we ever stopped to question how it's sold to us?
A quick glance at the lawn catalogues littering our office revealed some fascinating — and hilarious, if you squint — lessons that lawn adverts apparently want to teach us, and why, next summer, we might want to see something different.
1) A Pakistani woman wearing lawn... must not live in Pakistan
Oh, the irony! This season most lawn campaigns were shot abroad, like Elan, Maria B, Feeha Jamshed and Shehla Chatoor.
While an average Pakistani woman usually poses for a picture in new spanking-new designer lawn jora in her lawn or on her balcony, our lawn ads paint an extravagant picture of the lawn-wearer, showing models defining the lawn experience in a completely opposite environment.
Here's your average lawn-wearer at a beach in Bangkok!
And here she is wearing lawn in Morocco!
Dubai is also a great spot for lawn-wearers.
We get that advertisments are meant to be 'aspirational' and that most people aspire to travel for pleasure... but honestly, we don't usually wear lawn joras outside Pakistan (except to Mimi Aunty's annual Eid dinner in Florida — ugh).
What do we really want to see? How that lawn jora stands out at an eight-year-old's birthday party in Lahore. Or at that important presentation you're scheduled to give next Monday in Karachi. Or how the dupatta would stand up to whipping wind at Islamabad's Monal restaurant.
Now THAT would be helpful.
2) A lawn jora is best enjoyed in deep slumber
We thought this was a trope limited to soap operas on Indian TV. But if people were to take lawn ads seriously, they'd think that women enjoy the sweetest slumber in their best lawn joras, fully made up and hair styled to a tee.
Is this a case of lawn marketers pushing the 'ladies of leisure' image too far? We feel it isolates the rest of us, who, you know, don't lounge about and instead work for a living.
How hard would it be to plan a photo shoot around women pursuing real-life professions or everyday activities, without compromising on the shoot's glamour appeal? That's a challenge we'd like to see a photographer take.
3) Don't get in the driver's seat. That's a big no-no.
You might ask: are we still talking about transport, or is this a metaphor for life?
We were confused too. These lawn adverts seem to be saying: it's cool to have somewhere to go, but you should struggle to get there. Better yet, don't ever arrive.
Women stand around cars, sit on top of cars, manage to miraculously perch one high-heeled foot on their headlights, but getting in to drive one of those vehicles is out of the question. Why though?
Don't even bother with the luggage. Leave it out. Someone else will get that.
Maybe they can’t see the car, see how confused they look?
This one baffles us the most because the poor helpless lady is using her dupatta to create shade when she can just… sit in the car?
We're grasping at straws here, ladies. Just. Get. In. The. Car. And drive!
4) Your trusty dupatta must be repurposed as a sail for navigation. Or similar.
In real life, the dupatta is a highly functional element of your wardrobe. It has multiple uses: at different times it's either a guard against lewd stares, a shield from the sun or an improvised jharan that we clean up spilled chai with (guilty!).
But lawn ads beg to differ.
In lawn ads, the dupatta is used in fascinatingly creative ways. All of them rather useless.
According to this ad, you must use your dupatta as a weathervane. What better use for a three-yard piece of cloth than as an instrument with which to gauge the wind's direction?
Should you get lost at sea, it can be your sail. Amo B demonstrates.
And since you're already feeling nautical, you may use your dupatta to dress as a sexy pirate (in lawn) too.
Dupattas can even be your baby hammock. Insert baby here.
Once, just one, we'd like to see a lawn ad display our favourite use of the dupatta: as a handy (no pun intended) cover for my steering wheel when it gets roasted by the summer heat.
5) The no.1 accessory for the modern Pakistani woman is an animal — preferably wild, but pets do too.
Michael Kors says, "I've always thought of accessories as the exclamation point of a woman's outfit." Well, a wild animal is definitely an exclamation point! Oh what’s that? Most of these are domesticated animals? Well we just learnt a lesson.
We're struggling to figure out what the message is here. Perhaps lawn makes one in tune with nature?
Maybe your lawn will attract animals (not sure that's a plus)?
Perhaps lawn magically converts you into a dog person... or a bird person?
How do the animals feel about this, we wonder?
6) A lawn jora is an all-weather garment and must be respected as such.
Planning a trip to the Artic? No problem, break out that FTA jora!
Prepping to chill by a tropical lagoon? Shehla Chatoor has you covered!
Lawn will always be by your side.