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’.
One of the previous posts on Parentous.com already highlighted 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.
Nibedita Bose is an ex-Team Manager and now a SAHM trying to sail through the changes of life. A mother of a 1.5 year old who loves to read & blog.