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Helping children combat body shaming

PW invited parents of Somnath International School, Kodinar (Gujarat) to share insights on how they help their children fight body shaming

Some years back my daughter Riya (class VIII) related an incident involving her close school friend who was body shamed for being overweight. I realised the time was ripe to raise her awareness and dispel fears about body negativity/shaming. Over the years, we have taught Riya that physical attributes don’t matter in life as much as intelligence or character and therefore, never judge others by their looks. By being critical of ourselves and others, we send out wrong signals that body shaming is acceptable practice. Today Riya strongly empathises and stands up for victims of body shaming.

— Raziya Sulthana, graduate teacher, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Gir Somnath, Kodinar

With body shaming cases on the rise, it is our duty to sensitise children and safeguard their mental well-being from its harmful impact. To begin with, it’s absolutely essential that as parents we must avoid being critical of our children’s physical characteristics. Or of other people. Over the years, we have successfully taught our son Saket (class VI) to respect and nurture a healthy body to enable him to compete in all school events and activities, and above all never compare himself with other children. We have also taught him to respond appropriately to body shamers.

— Anshul Sharma, primary teacher, Somnath International School, Kodinar

Recently body shamed in school for being thin and dark, my daughter Vaibhavi (class VIII) suffered anxiety and hated going to school. It was difficult to understand her school aversion till the day I found out from her school friends. I started counselling her. First to accept herself as she is. Second. To understand that body shamers are immature. Third. To focus majorly on her strengths. I later requested her teachers to counsel her body shamers. Now she has the confidence to handle any adversity.

— Sreevidya Pillai, secondary coordinator and educator, Somnath International School, Kodinar

We often engage in healthy conversations with our son Arnav (class I) about body negativity/shaming taking great care to avoid being critical of ourselves or others and complimenting him all the while. Through our storytelling-style conversations, we have taught him to respond appropriately to body shamers and bullies. and instantly report such incidents, if any, to his school authorities. We believe talking about body shaming has boosted his confidence.”

— Priya Singh, postgraduate teacher, Somnath International School, Kodinar

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