Monday, April 9, 2012

Indian Army uniforms for women in the future

I started off very ambitiously wanting to study war strategies countries had used in the past and how they had changed over time. While doing my research, I realized countries weren’t openly going to discuss present war strategies. The whole topic was extremely hush-hush. So I decided to look at another aspect of the military- weapons. I wanted to study weaponry dating from the early 1600s to our present scenario. But when I went up to people asking what they thought the future of weaponry was going to be, they all said “nuclear wars”. This is when I settled on my final subject of research. Uniforms! They had been changed over and over again; every country had a unique uniform, and nothing was kept under wraps, finding information was very easy.
Military uniforms have gone from very elaborate, bright and colorful to very utilitarian. They are now supposed to be distinctive so they are easily identifiable and stand for unity among its members.
  Ancient Roman Empire soldiers have been shown to wear a small linen under cloth, a tunic, sandals and a heavy metal amour. They carried with them either a sword or a spear.
 Uniforms became more flamboyant around the 16th- 17th centaury. It was now a way of distinguishing between different ranks and regiments. The officers wore a coat, waistcoat, stocking, breeches, scarves and a hat.
  Today, military uniforms are all about function, camouflage and are even used as a means of psychological warfare against the enemy.
When I presented this idea in class, people suggested I narrow down my field of research. Designing a universal uniform for all countires was going to be almost impossible. I picked the Indian army. Out of the many uniforms that the Indian Army uses, I chose their field uniform. It seemed like the uniform that everyone was familiar with and so when I changed it, people would know what I’m talking about.
India changed it’s uniform recently because it was too similar to the Pakistani uniform. Then some time ago, we had trouble with the Indian Army emblem having been leaked so people could buy it off the counter. But while I was talking to officers in the army, the men didn’t seem to have any issues with the current uniform and the women had lots. So I changed topics again. I decided I would take the current uniform and modify it to be more women-friendly.
There seemed to be many problems with the uniform. Some complained that the cloth was too thick, while others said the clothes were not curvy and hence looked really shabby on a woman’s body. Narendra and one other person said that they didn’t like men staring at their breast line where all the medals and indication of rank are usually pinned. Also the five button fly on the pants didn’t make sense for a woman. In the time I had, I was only able to make a few changes. I got the tailor to make the uniform more attuned to the female figure by getting rid of the square form of the shirt and giving it curves. Because a lot of these army officers believe that the uniform makes them look shabby.
I also got rid of the breast pockets because they would be useless to a woman anyway. I slightly pulled up the pants at the waist. A problem that I couldn’t find a solution to in the little time I had, was the shape of the pants. They are made for the male body and the women in this country are larger at the hips. So they have to buy pants that are much larger at the waist so that the hips don’t look funny, but in the process ruin the length and the fall. Another problem that was pointed out in class was that these women will have problems closing the buttons of the shirt when they are pregnant. One solution would be to keep extra pleats on the sides that can be unfolded to make the shirt larger. The other option is, that they let the shirt be open (as it is sometimes kept, since there is an inside t-shirt as well) and the pants could have elastic at the waist. I still need to figure out where the medals would go. Someone in class suggested that I put a sashe on the shoulder where things could be pinned up. There are several other problems that women in the army encounter and I found it extremely strange that they haven’t been dealt with yet. I am still working on the uniform and once I have everything right in this one, I would like to create a whole new one.

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