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  • Writer's pictureThought Matters

Body shaming and Judgements-Quoted in Midday

Quoted at midday on May 6th, 2024, regarding navigating judgment: How can parents protect, or better yet, prepare their children against body shaming?

Body neutrality over body positivity: While body positivity seeks acceptance for and celebration of all body types, it can inadvertently accord undue importance to one’s appearance, says Dr Nahid Dave, a psychiatrist at Thought Matters. She recommends adopting a body-neutral attitude that prioritises what the body can do rather than what it looks like. “Body neutrality stresses on the fact that an individual’s value is not determined by how they look or feel about their appearance. On the other hand, body positivity can sometimes achieve the opposite of what the movement set out to do, as it places undue pressure on people to celebrate their appearance, even when this celebration feels inauthentic. Body neutrality is thus a more pragmatic and realistic approach,” she clarifies.

Reinforce achievements, not appearance: Ladak recommends emphasising qualities and achievements that aren’t related to physical appearance. “Encourage your child’s talents and interests, which can provide a solid foundation for self-esteem,” she says. Similarly, Dave advises that parents steer clear of obsessing too much about their own appearance, and seeking validation from others in the form of compliments. “It’s important for parents to develop a healthy relationship with their bodies so that they can model the same to their children,” she elaborates.

>>Don’t overcompensate: One approach that people use to try and shield their children from bullying or criticism is to become a ‘helicopter parent’ version of themselves. They embed themselves very deeply into their child’s activities and social life in a bid to protect them from pain and disappointment. This approach can lead to children feeling extremely ill-prepared to cope with the challenges they face in their later years. “Learn to listen to your child and acknowledge what they are going through. If they are being bullied, ask your child what they want you to do, to help. Although this is an uncomfortable time, it can also teach your child valuable coping skills and resilience,” Dave explains

>>Be realistic: In recent times, the concept of ‘pretty privilege’ has gained a lot of traction on social media. It means that people who are perceived as being good looking or better groomed automatically receive preferential treatment and are perceived as being more competent. “If your child is at the receiving end of such biases, you can help your child to cope by firstly, accepting that such biases exist, but also emphasising to your child that this perceived advantage is very temporary and that being talented, consistent and hard-working will open doors for them in the long term. If your child is old enough, you can also explain how societal standards of what is considered desirable keep changing to highlight the fleeting nature of such superficial judgments,” Dave signs off.

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