Cloaked casually and convincingly in good intentions, moral policing women's clothing has always been an issue in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It has been an issue for decades and arose once again at the recent protest outside the Karachi Press Club where people advocated for Palestinian rights and an end to oppression. Despite the serious nature of the protest, Mahira Khan's lack of dupatta is what some people chose to focus on.
While the rest of the world (and Pakistan) was concerned with the human rights violations taking place in Gaza, some users chose to point out how Khan, an adult capable of making her own decisions, wasn't wearing a dupatta with her kameez at the march.
Some people believe bullies should rightfully be given a shut up call, or even called out in public, as a reminder that their cruelty is being noticed and will no longer be tolerated.
Some people felt that people criticising Khan's clothes was a convenient way to ignore the ongoing crises the world is collectively facing — the violence against Palestinians and the coronavirus pandemic.
This issue isn't endemic to celebrities, as photographer Izzah Shaheen Malik (Pictorizzah) pointed out on her Instagram Story.
"Be it the bridal shoots we post on our page, 90 percent of the time we delete the comments under our posts, and there are times we end up deleting pictures because it gets too much," she said. "So yes I believe we should name and shame such people so that they think 1,000 times before commenting on someone's dressing or appearance."
Her story was partly in response to an argument that people, especially the media, shouldn't be giving these haters a platform to spread their hate. The argument is that no one would pay them any heed if their voices weren't amplified in the media.
But it is because of this coverage that these issues are brought to the notice of other celebrities, such as Yasir Hussain, who called out the people bashing Khan. He and others like him have massive fan followings on social media and when they call something out, people listen and often learn.
"Great. You can create a 'summer look' out of shorts and Mahira can't even ditch a dupatta at home in this scorching May heat? Get out of this clothing mindset and discuss some real issues. Have some shame and fear God," he exclaimed in his Instagram Story.
As the Jhooti actor pointed out the hypocrisy in the comments, it served as reminder for all those hiding behind their phone and computer screens that their actions and words have repercussions. People are watching them and despite their efforts to police women's clothes and thereby distract from actual issues, people are seeing them for what they really are.
Repeat after us — grown women can make their own choices. They do need not to be told what to do with their own bodies and what to wear. You don't get to decide what Mahira Khan or any other woman does or wears.