A wise lady once said “Your dal chawal might be someone else’s biryani”; that wise lady was me. One such wise discussion with my friends brought up a very interesting topic, how Indians lack etiquette when it comes to sensitive topics. The most commonly abused boundary is that regarding a person’s body. Body shaming has become a part and parcel of Indian society. At some point we all have done it, but we have all faced it in greater measures.
Age <1 = “Such a chubby baby” / “Give her some kaadha, she is too tiny”
Age 5 = “Send her down to play more” / “Feed her more ghee and butter”
Age 12 = “She is too big to not wear a training bra” / “Don’t worry she will put on weight after her 1st period”
Age 18 = “Lose weight or you’ll have to marry a fat guy” / “Put on some weight or you won’t look good in a saree”
Age 25 = “You need to lose weight to have a healthy baby” / “You need to gain weight to have a healthy baby”
Age 50= “It’s not arthritis, it’s just your weight” / “It’s not arthritis, it’s because you are too skinny”
Age 65 = “Wow your grandson is so chubby” / “Aww your grandson is so tiny”
And so it continues; an endless f-ing loop of inappropriate and scarring words. What is most surprising is that a lot of these comments come from within the inner circle, assorted aunts and so-called friends. The people you look up to, to provide you with confidence to face strangers, are often the ones who are responsible for you turning into a socially awkward hot mess. What baffles me even more is that this caustic behavior isn’t limited to those who are over-weight, the thin ones aren’t spared either. I have a friend, who by my understanding is perfect: tall and thin. I’d kill a bear to be her, bear-handed. (Get that? BEAR-HANDED… LOL) But she claims to be regularly subjected to comments like “Why don’t you eat?” “Put on some weight before marriage” and the worst one by far “Didn’t your mom feed you?” WTH people! This just reinstates the fact that you can never be perfect for everyone.
Another ridiculous thing we ALL do is commenting on people’s fashion sense. Why should something as subjective as fashion be used as a tool to ridicule someone? I do not claim to be innocent of this. To be honest, as of 5 minutes ago I was laughing at a colleague’s choice of shirt. I guess we all need to bear in mind that where there’s Pippa Middleton on one end of the spectrum, there’s Lady Gaga on the other; both equally famous for their fashion sense. Your perception could fall on either or somewhere in the middle; it just doesn’t make you any better. Bullying is an ugly look, even if you are dressed in Burberry. When will we grow up?
Recently, several people in my life had babies and their most common woe is ‘unsolicited advice’. That, by far, is the worst thing you could do to a person. Definitely lot worse that body shaming. Put yourselves in the mom’s shoes, here she is starting a completely unknown journey and in charge of a tiny life who is completely dependent on her and she is subjected to your mom-shaming. “We didn’t give our kids this” “We kept them in swaddle for a year” “You didn’t exclusively feed for 6 months?” By no means are all suggestions meant with a bad intention, but any advice that is unwanted is just that, UNWANTED. Let the woman raise her child how she sees fit! Everyone should have the opportunity to screw up their kid in their own special way.
To conclude, remember that we have evolved from cavemen for a reason. Apparently evolution taught us tact, good judgment and caution. I don’t see that in a lot of people around me. I will wait for a world where nobody is embarrassed to be who they are or be unique.