A striking issue that has risen nowadays is extreme dissatisfaction regarding your own body image. Owing to the advent of marriage bureaus and the rishta-seeking culture, people are becoming increasingly conscious about the color of their skin. Dusky people seem to have taken a fetish for skin-lightening products such as creams, pills and even injections. As was perceived of old, only girls were facing peer pressure to apply ubtans, fairness creams and totkas, the surprising factor is that nowadays even their male counterparts are seen to be resorting to this questionable activity.
This makes you seriously wonder where our society is headed. If this is the basis of finding spouses, I wonder how concrete the marriages, which form based on these foundations, would be. Body-shaming is so prevalent in our society that we’re willing to pretend to be of a different color and fake it in front of the one individual, with whom the only basis of our relationship is trust. If this is a standard, what would become of the children that come out of these unions? These medications aren’t going to change or affect the genes in any way. So, if the babies turn out to be “shockingly” dark, would they be thrown away? Or be subject to just such humiliating bouts of medication and injections to turn out fairer?
All throughout my childhood and adulthood, I have fought with obesity. Being plump as a child did not allow me to fit into the “normal” body category. Kids can be inadvertently mean but so can older people. Our society tends to believe that if you’re not “normal” (by its own twisted standards), you are not allowed to have feelings, or maybe, they just don’t matter. As a kid, this affected my self-confidence and I grew up to be an extremely shy person. As someone who has struggled with her body image all throughout her life, I have worked hard to build up my self-esteem from the ground up.
My story and the accounts of countless others who were made to feel ashamed of their weight, height, skin color or any other aspect of how they look, provide a strong indication that we, as people, are morally spiraling downwards – and fast. As an aunt to a niece, who appears to be facing the same kinds of issues as me, I can tell why she feels shy or doesn’t speak up in class. It is because she’s afraid of being made fun of, of being shamed for who she is. It is because of this that I cannot stress enough on how important it is to raise children who are kind, respectful, helpful, friendly, compassionate, empathetic and considerate of others.
If we ourselves can find peace with being discontented with who we are, how we appear and are consistently in the habit of comparing ourselves to others, incessantly trying to “adapt” to the society’s standards without any qualms, we’re going to teach our children that it’s okay for others to criticize them based on how they look and their material achievements. Are these the values we want to inculcate within our future generation? Are we going to teach them to be forever unhappy about who they are and how they look? Are we going to be okay with them comparing themselves to others and nurturing jealousies? Or instead, are we going to educate them to be satisfied in their own skin?
It is high time we bring up children with the right priorities in life. We need to make them people, who can look beyond the skin and beneath the physical beauty. They should be encouraged to identify their own unique talents and capabilities. They should be directed to make decisions that promote healthier lifestyles. They should be supported in becoming people of character and intellect. So that they become individuals with a strong sense of self-worth.
We, as responsible adults, should instill within them, the wonderful core values our religion teaches us. We need to train them to be thankful for everything Allah has Blessed them with, to be content and satisfied with what they have. We need to coach them to look for the good in themselves and in others. We need to raise them up as confident and skilled individuals, who contribute compassionately to the welfare of others, who are kind and helpful, considerate and patient, who benefit others and have beautiful hearts.