Growing up, I had always been a target of body shaming for being too tall and thin. Throughout my school and college days, I was awarded odd names. The thing that used to hurt the most was that the people passing such comments almost always included even the close friends and the family members. Even after college days, when I joined a publication house, a place that people think to be more progressive, the scenario was the same. I am also sure that I was not the only one being targeted for such things but most of us must have faced such situations in life when we are given names and body shamed for being too thin, tall, fat, dark, and so on. It is only after the birth of my daughter that I gained some weight and had some relief.
Back then when I was growing up, there was no awareness and people did not use to think that these things leave a permanent impression on one’s mind. But now, due to social awareness, we are becoming more aware and openly talk about Body shaming and take a pledge that we won’t do it.
But, have we really stopped it? The answer is NO. Here I would not talk about the teenagers or the adults but would rather talk about the small children being body shamed. Yes, you read it right. The small children, who do not even know the meaning of being fat, dark or thin are always under the constantly judging eyes of the society.
The moment a child takes the birth, everybody is more interested in the color, height and weight of the child rather than his/her well-being. After that begins the comparison. If parents are fair and the child is somehow a shade darker than the parents, the relatives and the family members start finding the reason for the same. Then begins the trying out of various remedies so that the shade could be improved. Do we really need to do this? Can we just focus on the well being of the child who has just come out of the womb?
Then the child grows-up and the saga of the weight begins. If a child is too thin people ask him/her that don’t your parents give you anything to eat? How will you play or jump that you are so thin? The poor child who has just started learning to walk doesn’t understand the questions and gives a confused expression. If a child is on the heavier side, people ask, what your parents give you to eat that you are becoming so fat? Even the mothers are given the bits of advice on how to feed their children properly. Sometimes, people don’t find the complexion of the child to be perfect and sometimes the height. The list is ever going. People very conveniently forget that nobody is perfect in this world and so the children.
What are these baby shows for which are organized every year in the months of January and February? To advertise their Play Schools, the schools put the small babies on a show and the parents also happily participate in that in order to prove that their baby is the best. On what grounds they judge these small children. The most sparkling eyes? The healthiest baby? The most active baby? The sunniest smile? A poor child, who might not have slept well in the night and is forcefully made to wear the fancy clothes, is judged by the people who probably do not even have the children. How can the smile of a child be judged? For a parent, his/her child’s smile is the most beautiful and his/her child is the most beautiful in the world. And the children who have not won any prize in the show, aren’t they pretty?
The thing which bothers me more that sometimes, the parents also join the criticism of people, though unknowingly. They forget that their lack of confidence in their own child is making their child even more conscious. My daughter, being the child of the tall parents, was a few centimeters taller than her classmates in her Play School, was constantly made conscious of being too tall for her age. Then I thought that the history is repeating itself and I would definitely not let that happen. Now, if anybody gives some unnecessary suggestion or comment, I always give it back, though in a polite way. This way, I set an example for my daughter that her height or body are not the things to be discussed. Though I don’t give her constant compliments, I always tell her that she is the best and I am the luckiest Mom to have her.
The point is, can we stop judging a child on the basis of the height, weight and color and focus on their interests and abilities. When we come across a child, rather than finding faults with her/his body, can we help the parents find the capabilities of the child? As a progressive society, it becomes our responsibility to make the children more confident so that we can build a confident future of our country. We should work in the direction that when our children grow, they don’t grow with the complexities. We should make them work on their abilities rather than concentrating on their body.
In the end, let us take a pledge that we would help every child understand that the beauty lies within and if the heart is beautiful and the mind is focused on the right things, it would automatically reflect on their face and body, making them the most beautiful.
What is your view?