My dear friend was suffering from cancer for two years and losing weight. Everyone who met her commented on how smashing she looked. Our generation has somehow perceived thin as fit and fat as ugly. A healthy lifestyle on the other hand looks nothing like what you see on the magazine cover.
We want our kids to grow up feeling strong and confident in their bodies. We know better than to comment on other people’s weight and engage in diet talk in front of our kids. We model self-care behaviours and teach them values related to diversity in all areas, including body size.
But our media is filled with ‘thin’ ‘tall’ and ‘fair’ people. We potray silently that fair is good and dark is bad.
The comedian we mock at is a fat chubby guy while our heroes have six packs and chiselled chests.
It’s commendable to be healthy
But we chatter with our friends about wanting a stomach as flat as Shilpa Shetty ignoring her fitness journey and admiring her body shape. Alas!
We ourselves hate spinach but Brocolli and Kale are part of our morning salads because it is Insta worthy.
We click pictures at an angle and hide behind our partner to look thin and esthetic.
What msg are we silently conveying?
Body shamming begins at home. It begins when you adorably pet a child for having the flattest nose and a small pot belly. It begins when you call her gundus, motti (again adorably). It escalates around the teens but the seeds are sown as early as 6-8 years of age.
Children are body shammed for various things not just being fat. They are shammed for wearing specs, for being too tall or too short, for having curly hair and even for having a particular nose !
Shame never leaves their body. They grow up being trapped in vessels they don’t love. This escalates to damage their personality and ruins bridges in relationships.
We can’t fully protect our children from the body shaming they’ll encounter in a culture where disordered eating is normative and weight stigma persists. But we can give them a strong foundation in valuing body positivity and normal eating, so they’re more likely to recover quickly – to be resilient – in the face of struggles with food, weight and appearance.
Instead of completely avoiding addressing their body, talk to them about this. Openly – Frankly. Accept your mistakes to them. Show them how media is wrong and prepare them to face it if they get shamed.
This post was written as part of the #blogchattera2z challenge