When we were kids, our parents gave us cute nicknames such as Motu, Golu, or Chotu. While these names were given out of love and affection, they sort of stayed with us forever. Children are quick to notice how people judge others. Judgment is usually formed based on physical appearances, such as body type. Beauty and body image everywhere around us is measured on parameters: how slim, thin, fair, and lovely one is. If you’re dealing with an adolescent, you’d know what they may go through if none of the above parameters defines their ‘body type’. It would be hard to go on with one’s day without feeling “average, if not ugly”. This is where the relevance of teaching body positivity meaning to our children is of utmost importance. So, what does body positivity actually mean?
Body positivity meaning:
In our country, many gods and goddesses are known for their beauty and dusky complexion. Lord Krishna is known as Shyam (Dark). Ma Kali, Ram, and Sita are also described as gods with beautiful dark skin. I often wonder how in a country where diversity is celebrated in its full glory, yet fairness creams made such a deep-rooted impact and found their way on every retail shelf possible. How did we let go of our pride in our beautiful skin color and were sold to the idea of “Fair and Lovely”? How did the body positivity meaning get convoluted like this?
Do these lines sound familiar to you? “Dhoop mein mat khelo, Kali Ho jaogi/jaoge?” (You’ll become dark if you play in the sun) Or “Dekho, mitti mein khel ke kitna kala aur ganda ho gaya hai”. (You have become so dark and dirty after playing in the sun).
“Dhoop Mein Khelo, Vitamin D milega” said no mother ever!Aditi Jalan
Tips to teach body positivity meaning in kids:
1. Grow beyond “dark is dirty”
Years of social conditioning taught us that ‘dark is dirty and fair is lovely’. Let us not let our children be conditioned with the same belief. Kids as early as eight years old learn to evaluate beauty based on their color weight and height. It is high time we, as a society and as parents, work on changing that. Let us not make the next generation conscious about how they look but conscious about the kind of human beings they are.
2. Stop relating body size to health
Mother is the first teacher of the child. When we say things like “I need to lose weight, I have become so fat,” it breeds in the subconscious and fragile minds of our little ones. What they really hear is “fat is bad and not beautiful”. As a parent, it is important for us to be mindful of what we say. It is important to teach kids to be healthy and strong but using the right approach and avoiding words like fat, thin, dark and light are equally important. With small steps, we can make a big change.
We should start by telling them how each body is different and yet special and beautiful in its own way. Also, our body is what helps us accomplish everything from the smallest to the biggest task and thus, we must love it, appreciate it, and be thankful for it.
3. Use of right words
Furthermore, when trying to promote positive body image in kids, it is imperative that we use the right words.
Here are some small changes that can be embraced in the language. There can be a positive shift in the mindset thereby creating awareness about body positivity meaning in kids:
- Replace words like strong or weak instead of fat or thin
- Encourage physical exercise to become strong and not thin.
- When talking about getting tanned, tell kids about sun’s rays burning and harming their skin instead of darkening their skin.
- Avoid using nicknames based on body image
- Junk food/too many desserts make them unhealthy or gives them a stomach ache as opposed to making them fat
- Compliment them by saying “you are beautiful” instead of “you look beautiful”.
- While talking about other people in front of kids make sure you use positive adjectives to describe them. Like you could say “the strong and tall boy/girl from your class” instead of “fat and big boy/girl”
- Avoid complimenting children around their looks too much. Over- complimenting can also make them very conscious. Balance is the key.
These little steps can go a long way in helping kids have a strong body-positive image of themselves.
Let us condition them to love their skin and body so fiercely that no superficial advertising or peer pressure can get them to believe that fair skin and skinny bodies would mean a better future. Let us create a generation that learns body positivity meaning in the right direction.
by Aditi Murarka
Winner of Top Mom Bloggers contests conducted by The Champa Tree. She is an influencer who microblogs on the Instagram page Spectra_mom. Her article ‘Teaching Body Positivity Meaning To Kids’, in which she talks about the importance of creating a proper body image, paved the way for her selection.