Fair, tall and thin—three words and you know exactly what I’m talking about. These are not just words; these 4-letter words are a holy grail of sorts, so deep-rooted in our society, especially when it comes to girls!
Growing up as a girl in an Indian household can be difficult (I mean really difficult). There are expectations; e x p e c t a t i o n s so superficial that you begin to question the very existence of them. If you are short, they ask you to become tall (how? No one knows). If you are dark, they ask you to be fair (again, you need magic). If you are fat, they ask you to be thin, and if you are thin, then that’s a problem too. The real problem here is when this mentality originates from where you’ve spent a major part of your life—home.
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Living with Indian parents is an experience that comes draped in a beautiful veil. One snide comment is neglected on the basis of it coming from your own people. But are ‘blood relations’ really worth it when they cost you your mental sanity? And no, it doesn’t come right at you. It comes in multitudes of subtle remarks that you will disguise for love and affection. “Get on a diet, before you meet with that boy,” suggests grandma, or “Stop wearing these tight clothes. You don’t have the body for it, beta,” from an aunt.
And what do we do about it? We fight back? We give in? Most of us end up going on that diet. Because we’ve been taught to be “liked” and we are willing to do what it takes to get there. Thanks to conditioning, regardless of our head-strong magnitude, being a solid 10 on 10 and accepted in society seems to be bigger than staying true to ourselves. The after-effects of this come in the form of low-self confidence, dependence on a certain body image to be accepted, and an attack on our mental health. The big question to ask here is: why are we not making our homes a safe place where we accept people as they are?
Why are we all running behind a mould that’s not meant for the Indian body? And why are we not accepting and embracing what’s ours—curves, curves and curves? Why is a certain number on the weighing machine equated with our worth? Is this what we will carry forward into our homes?
If you want to do something about it, then here’s our say: start a conversation. Open up and tell your parents the implication of their seeming “loving” comments. Save yourself from reaching a point where you’ve hit rock bottom with your self-esteem. Normalise healthy conversations around issues like these with your parents. Tell them how it constructs and deconstructs your perception of your body. Tell them how it’s wrong. And don’t forget to tell them how every body type is beautiful.
Words are all you need to make a change. Not just at home, but outside too.