Are We Teaching Our Children Body Positivity?
Recently I was on a video call with a friend, when she noticed my two year old in the background and exclaimed, “Are you not giving her enough food? She is so lean!” I snapped back immediately, “The paediatrician says she has a healthy weight. So, let's not talk about how my daughter looks.”
Is it not time we stop body shaming our children? The world has already set unrealistic beauty standards and the fashion industry has worsened it by glorifying it. The craze for perfecting ourselves is so much that we keep editing our pictures with filters and effects. It is indeed one's choice to present themselves as they want. But what about embracing ourselves the way we are. We have not spared even our children from the unrealistic beauty standards. Chubby kids are shamed for their weight and again those who appear lower than the acceptable weight are also shamed.
At times, we unthinkingly make remarks about our (own and other) children's looks, weight, height, complexion or facial features, but the harm that we inflict on these little minds is detrimental to their self-esteem. We may cause serious damage to their psychological development. Spoken words have a lasting impact, especially on children because they observe us, follow us, and look up to us.
What to do when your child is body shamed?
Call out body shamers at once. It is rude and uncouth behaviour even if it comes from an adult. If people resort to body shaming your child, you should sternly deal with it, since your child will be more observant of your reaction to the situation. Talk to your child later about body positivity, and make him or her understand that we are more than how we appear.
What if your child body shames someone?
Talk to your child. A child picks up habits and words from elders mostly. So guide them to be generous. Body shaming is hurtful, and no one deserves to be hurt because of how they appear.
I remember while still at school , I was often called names like “moti”, “fatty” and “fatso” by other children. Eventually, I believed that being healthy was nothing short of an offence. It made me feel shameful about my own looks, until I grew older and realized that I had nothing to be ashamed about, accepted myself the way I am and became confident in my skin. But I lost many days, months and years looking down upon myself.
Let's teach our children to accept themselves as they are. Let's teach them to look more than appearances in a person. Lets unlearn the unrealistic beauty standards and the years of body shaming that we have subjected ourselves and others to. Let's be body positive and raise confident and happy children!
Anindita Ganguly has a doctorate in English Literature. Her research area is Women's theatre. She has worked as a writer and editor in several publishing houses over the last decade. A voracious reader who loves doodling and is passionate about music, gardening and movies.