Does it really matter if children are short or tall, skinny or wide? Don’t judge them on their body parts as they have a beautiful heart…
I always thought that body shaming was in the form of motu, chasmish, chotu but never imagined it to be in the form of lambu…
Well, here I am talking about my daughter who is going to be 4 in the next two months. My daughter is a charming girl. Family and friends say that she has the best of her father and me. So she has a lot of me and a lot of her father … and one thing which she has definitely obtained from her father is her height. I am of the average height in which most of the Indian girls fall. So I am not all that short but people label me as natti when I am with my husband.
When my daughter was cozy and snuggled up in my tummy, she never seemed so big. One day very close to my delivery date my doctor announced that she is a little doubtful regarding the weight of the baby. She said that the baby’s weight is much lower than expected. There was a huge scene at home with people blaming me for starving myself and in turn my baby. But I gave birth to a healthy her who had a normal weight and longer limbs as compared to other babies. So now that’s the story she has always been a big baby from the beginning. Her height had never bothered me and I was happy for the fact that she is going to be a tall girl. But when people body shame her, bully her for being tall I am unhappy. I am sad for my little one who is still trying to discover this big bad world.
When she went to the school for the first time, she took almost 3-4 months to settle. Since she was the tallest girl in her class, she was often labelled as being the eldest as well. So her settlement issues meant that she is big enough not to behave like this in class. It turned out that she was among the youngest in her class. Not only this, when we go out to meet friends and family then she is expected to behave her age which according to them is not her present age. If she cries and throws a tantrum then comments are made, that she is so big and behaving really irrationally. But the fact is that she is still a baby.
Often children of her age have also told her “tum kitni badi ho, we don’t want to play with you.” Many times these are the children who are older to her but shorter than her. This changes the expression on her face and I can easily read it when she is asking who I should play with. I really wonder who teaches these children about badi and chotti. I remember as a kid we were a big group of children and irrespective of our age and size we played with everyone.
People often introduce her as ‘didi’ to their children. I usually ask the age of their child and if their age is around her or more than her, I politely tell them that she is of the same age or younger. At this, I have been given really shocked expressions as they refuse to believe. They are usually, accha yeh 3 saal ki hai, lagti toh nahin, badi lagti hai … and don’t know what. Now my daughter is so aware of her age that if anyone asks and before I can say something she is quick enough to tell her age.
Just because a child does not look her age or is not that perfect does not mean that one has the right to bully them. I am not blaming anyone but we should make a strong effort to promote a positive body image rather than setting negative body images for young children. As children are malleable they get easily affected by the content and the things taught in school to what they are exposed to home and surroundings. It just makes them miserable by labeling them with certain characteristics or hating a part of their body.
When we as adults find it difficult to fit into categories, the least we can do for our children is not to let them think about being too tall, too thin, too fat, too short or as a matter of fact too grumpy and too stubborn. These notions just set unhealthy limits … end body shaming, any kind of body shaming and let these children blossom. Tell your children they are beautiful and this should be conveyed to them daily.