Friday, April 29, 2016

The “Shaming” Bubble

All this fuss about body shaming, fat shaming, slim shaming… I’ve started to wonder if I am still living in the same planet as I was born in. When I was growing up, I was told the story of Chipmunks over and over until the moral of that story started running in my blood stream. The moral being, pay attention to the chipmunks and they’ll enjoy bothering you, ignore them and they’ll get bored. So, when did we start paying attention to these chipmunks aka shamers!

Shobhaa De has been the latest victim of Indian hypocrisy. On one hand, we condemn the government and law enforcement for the (in)famous JNU matter, screaming freedom of expression. And on the other, we condemn Shobhaa De for the same freedom of expression.

For those unaware, Shobhaa De has been thoroughly criticized across all media platforms for her take on curves and sarees upon the recent visit of Prince William and Kate Middleton. In her blog on Shobhaa wrote, “Kate has skipped wearing a saree. Her waist is perfect for crinoline ball gowns from "Gone with the Wind". But a saree needs curves. A saree demands a derriere. Kate has none. Thank God, some misguided fashion guru has spared her and us so far.”

For eons, poets and authors described a woman’s curves draped in a saree, and how they appeal to a tender youthful heart. For several generations we have been admiring those literary pieces in educational institutions, and today suddenly, an army of ADHD* sufferers decides to shun all of that and so much more. (*Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder)

Let me ask a few questions to understand the situation better:
1.       Do we not follow instructions mentioned on various cosmetics about what shade would suit what skin tone?
2.       Do we not consult our friends and family before indulging in an extravagant shopping of clothes and shoes?
3.       Do we not tell our daughters and sisters to not wear certain kind of clothes while venturing out alone, late in the night, especially in notorious areas?

If your answer to one or more of the above questions is yes, then dear friends, all this fuss about fat-shaming, slim-shaming, slut-shaming is a sham to a great extent. It’s not a complete sham though, can’t be. That professor insulting the student for wearing whatever she chose to wear was incorrect. Bullying an overweight woman for her body type or bullying a slim girl for her type of body is again, incorrect. But expressing an opinion, is not incorrect.

Why, we all tell our boys and girls to eat well so that they are in good health. We, at the same time, advise them about healthy and unhealthy eating habits. We are also the ones who step-up and give suggestions about hairstyles, hair color, lip color, apparel and footwear based on body type, skin tone and what not. What is wrong in that? Well, nothing, right?

How many of us have been told by our grannies to put on some weight so that a saree would look good on us? Would you classify that as shaming?

And telling our girls to not dress a certain way is again not slut shaming. It is called caution. While I am all for rapists' and molesters' public castration with live broadcast on national channels, I also believe in exercising caution. We all do. I have a had friends and family members advising me about certain notorious areas and how I must be careful at my best. Does it mean that they are insensitive and victim blamers - No.

There's a thin line between shaming and caution. Shaming is when we decide to insult a person for whatever they are or choose to be. Caution is a different story altogether. None of would want to be on the other side and fight this battle. We just need to remember that we are living in a developing country, where a huge percentage of population is still uneducated. And while it's correct to support individual rights and not blame the victims of heinous crimes, we need to aware of the fact that this kind of evolution would take several generations of thorough education and civilized upbringing for things to change. Till then, caution is our best bet.

Shaming is when somebody is affected by the opinions expressed in the form of nagging. Bullying is when a person starts getting affected psychologically. But if we start classifying every opinion of our disliking as shaming and bullying then the day is not too far when our entire planet would start living in a state of silence.

My dear friends, there is a huge difference in bullying, shaming and, expressing an opinion - Let’s start thinking reasonably before crying foul.

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