Monday, 8 April 2013

D = Discrimination

Chubby Cheeks, Dimple Chin
Rosy lips, teeth within,
Curly hair, very fair
Eyes are blue, lovely too
Teacher’s pet, Is that you!
Yes, yes, yes.

I remember getting upset after reading this rhyme as a kid. It is needless to mention here that I have nothing in common with the hyped physical traits mentioned in the rhyme except the teeth part. I somehow believed the fact that these features propel chances of becoming favorites of our teachers! Obviously when I understood the importance of mental ability, intelligence, common sense, individuality and confidence later on in my life, I outgrew the complex of being an ugly duckling.
However, motherhood brought this debate back in my life again. Expert tips & unsolicited advices kept pouring in to make me understand that my baby needs lots of grooming to fit into the category of typical ‘Awww…so cute’ kids. The advisory panel ranged from my neighbors, relatives, friends & their families, my maid and even sometimes complete strangers!
She is so hairy…. apply ubtan (a paste of turmeric & chickpea flour) regularly on her and especially on her face. Facial hair does not look good on girls!! Here, I strongly put my foot down to let my baby go through this torturous procedure.
Her hair density is so less… it would look so bad later on. I have one very good solution for this problem… burn some jute, mix it with onion juice and then apply it on her scalp. Ewww.. this one completely turned me off. I almost sniggered on that honorable lady’s face.

Why don’t you apply Kajal (kohl) to her eyes? Eyes would be wider and look beautiful if you apply Kajal regularly. Excuse me!… have you heard of anything like genetic traits? Even my maid emphasized this idea and when I tried to circumvent her advice by saying that ‘Doctor has asked not to apply it’… pat came the reply, ‘You can always wipe it off on those days you are visiting doctor!’
You should keep on tracking her height regularly…… if she inherits her dad’s height then there is no problem otherwise early consultation with doctor can help. Yes, I am shorter than any average Indian women. But till the time my daughter is achieving her developmental milestones, I don’t find any reason to bother our pediatrician.
My list remains incomplete without mentioning the numerous comments I got to hear regarding my baby’s weight. She had always been on the normal range of the ideal weight mentioned in clinical charts. However, she is not chubby and sort of devoid of any ‘baby fat’. People after showing concern with my kid’s lankiness, keep on thrusting various weight gain recipes, force feeding technique, and even suggested ‘Nazar Utarna’ (negating the evil eye effect). I have now stopped giving explanations to them at all.

Anyway, winding back to the beginning of post, it compelled me to think ‘why it is so important for a baby to look pretty, cute & chubby?’ Even the aggressive marketing of consumer products through media reinforce this theory of ‘good looking’ babies. Quote any advertisement of products meant for kids and you can see kids with physical features mentioned in that nursery rhyme hopping gleefully on the screen. But why should I blame the media only. We are a nation obsessed with skin lightning & fairness products , smearing it on face only is a passé ….. now even the armpits & vagina are not left alone. This fascination is injected early in the kids by projecting chubby, fair babies as benchmark and it prolong life time with matrimonial advertisement like ‘V.Fair, pretty, slim & tall girl wanted’.

This is a widely understood fact how the self-esteem of kids gets affected with this discrimination based on physical traits. And it remains a fact. I came to know from a friend who is a teacher in some big-shot international school that even in school extracurricular activities the kids with ‘pleasing (read pretty)’ faces are given preferences for the first row on stage. Has the school bothered to care about the self-esteem of that average looking kid pushed to the last row?

So, within my caliber, I can at least help my daughter grow up in a way so that she can shrug off the fascination of people with clichéd physical traits with her confidence & self-esteem.


  1. Any mention of judging a baby on terms of beauty riles me up ! I just hate it when people don't say aww sooo cuteee when they see a dusky,thin child ..
    I mean the child could grow up to be a super model someday.. but no! all they want is a fair fat child :(
    and it saddens me to no end when people go aww so cute on a "fair & lovely" kid while the child standing next is completely ignored :( :(

  2. I really cannot believe that there are so many people out there who are suggesting to do this and that to make babies fit into that fake category. For crying out loud, all babies are cute. Their innocence is what matters. Applying make up and giving a fake face for a kid so early is totally unacceptable. How people have come to ignore the natural beauty of children, I can never comprehend.

    Until later,
    Keirthana :)

  3. I think most parents would know what you mean.. if the kid is thin, the so called well wishers look at you as if you don't feed them ;)... and I am chuckling out loud at the armpit & vagina reference... hahahaha....

  4. lol I once got a remark from an elder saying "so you eat all her food also!" pointing out that she is so thin! People can get so mean too about this!

  5. this is so typical no? you know what, say you took advice of all these ladies and force fed your kid, applied hair oil, kohl, fairness cream whatever, even then you'd be reprimanded for being harsh on the kid. This is a no win situation. You do it your way, they hate you, you do it their way, they hate you.

    might as well do as you please. :) and yeah, just when I thought we couldn't stoop any lower (pun unintended) than the fair armpits bit, we did!

  6. Hmmm...Exactly my thoughts...If you have a kid then you are marked for life..You will keep inviting advise. Now on how you should feed your child, later on how you should make her study, then on what she should study, and finally when and to whom she should marry!! Oh an i forgot when she should have babies of her own (so that they can go and advice her as well!!)
    And this fitting in a particular mold to be acceptable is such a bad thing to happen..It just gets my blood boiling at times..I did a post of on this...

  7. Having a child automatically entitles the world to give you unsolicited advice. Half the time its the insecurities of those giving the advice that comes to the fore. Even if you are a new mom, you are still a mom and its your instincts that matter and no one else's... every child is beautiful and its a pity that our bias ridden society is still light years from getting that.