“I will first check your weight before getting you married,” her to-be father-in-law said to her.
Her marriage was fixed. It was an arranged match, and the boy was from a well-to-do family. She ought to have been happy, but she was miserable and mortified. Nobody tried to acknowledge her persona, her virtues, her wonderful nature. Instead, she was picked on for being overweight.
She smiled through her ordeal, desperately trying to shed weight. Then she got married, had children, and put on weight again. And the stress continued.
I am talking about my college friend. The body-shaming she was subjected to angered me then, and today, as I recall the terrible time she endured, I can still feel the anger simmering.
Why are we so fixated on the shape, size, and form of our bodies? Why is it the dream of most girls to look good rather than be good? Are we collectively responsible for this problem?
The era of appearance-obsession dawned long ago, and its unforgiving spirit has been further stoked by the Age of the Celebrity and the tyranny of social media. Anything that is outside the delusion of photoshopped beauty is up for body shaming. Impossible physical perfection has become the goal. Young girls today airbrush their pictures before putting them on social media. Girls as young as nine years are on diets and in a state of constant conflict with the way they look. More and more young women are opting for cosmetic surgery to look like X or Y celebrities.
Anorexia and Bulimia are on the rise.
This obsession with physical perfection must stop. And we can make this happen. Who is ‘we’? I am talking about every mother and father on this planet. Please teach your daughters (and sons) that the true self is tied to values, abilities, and the power of belief. Not to the shape of the body. Teach them that the true mark of a human being is to do with compassion, empathy, warmth and generosity of mind and heart. Tell them to be confident of who they are because they are unique.
These are simple lessons. They are also transformational. I am doing it with my children, and it is not difficult.
The result of empowering young girls to aim higher than just aspiring for physical attractiveness lasts a lifetime. So does the trauma of being body shamed.
What is it that you want to choose?