Recently, I competed in an Economics Fest in an elite college in Mumbai. I was participating in an event wherein I had to sell a product given to me, basically a marketing event. I was asked to sell, ‘toothpaste that made teeth pale to a model’. Essentially, my aim was to market the product with the USP –models today want to set trends; they want to be unique. During the marketing pitch I realised a very depressing truth –even the most educated and modern youth today still harbour petty notions of a ‘perfect’ body.
Today, men and women alike are being bashed about the way they look. Instead of celebrating flaws and imperfections, we segregate and condescend using them as validation. Body shaming is a social malady that has not only infested the older generations, but has also percolated down to the youth. Instead of being forward and accepting individuals, children and young adults today, are confined to the narrow concept of perfection and (so called) acceptable beauty.
Body shaming is not only restricted to weight and build but also extends to skin and hair. Men and women with skin pigmentation such as Vitiligo are harassed. They are often shunned from their communities and are unable to find work. As a random experiment to corroborate the sheer bias, I Googled ‘Vitiligo people are harassed’ and the results were shocking. There are numerous accounts of people being harassed. Some have even put their insecurity into words
“I have been called cancer boy, leper, albino bastard, Michael Jackson’s brother, and “half-nigger”. Meh, words are just words, but it’s the looks of fear and disgust which have haunted me from childhood.”
It is not the disease that strips an individual of their respect, honour and confidence, but it is the piranha of a society that we live in. It leads to suicidal tendencies, self harm and depression. Society inculcates a sense of fear and insecurity in people that inhibits their will to celebrate themselves.
Let me give you an example of the double standards when it comes to body shaming.
I bet most of you have heard of the #curvy phenomenon that has been taking Instagram (social media) by storm. It is a campaign that celebrates women who accept and love their bodies, despite the fact that they do not fit in the ‘perfect body’ category. Recently, Instagram banned the hashtag citing the following as their reason, “It was being used to share content that violates (Instagram’s) guidelines around nudity”. However, the irony is that hashtags like dildo, vagina, skinny, bitch, fat and similar terms showing all kinds of nudity have not been banned!
Let me give you another example.
World no. 1 female tennis player Serena Williams too has not been spared. While Serena was gearing up for her (record) sixth Wimbledon title the New York times felt it was the most appropriate time to call her big.
The New York Times reported:
“Williams, who will be vying for the Wimbledon title against Garbine Muguruza on Saturday, has large biceps and a mold-breaking muscular frame, which packs the power and athleticism that have dominated women’s tennis for years. Her rivals could try to emulate her physique, but most of them choose not to.”
The sad part of this excerpt is not that they are criticising Serena, but are letting her fellow tennis players do so. If strong, independent and recognised women like Serena are not being spared of this idiocy, then one can only imagine the utter bias other women experience.
I believe we were all created unique human beings, so that we forge a life that we could call our own. It is our quirks that make us beautiful. Beauty is not skin deep, it lies in our values, morals and virtues. It is an individual’s compassion, generosity, strength, drive, selflessness, humility and kindness that makes them beautiful. I have always and will continue to stand by one principle –it is depth in my personality that makes me beautiful.
I continue to strive for depth.
We should all strive for depth.