By Pooja Kochar:
A girl’s self-esteem peaks at 9 and drops at 12. If she is empowered, it jumps at 20 again. As a social experiment, I started approaching schools across Mumbai to talk about my vision of promoting ‘positive body image’. Everyone is talking about body shaming, but how does it start? It is sparked when you are in school and exposed to ‘false perfection’, hence the best way to address this issue is to attack the root cause. Our traditional education lacks the flexibility to accommodate progressive courses, it takes me 3-5 meetings and lot of convincing to make the authorities realise the value of such workshops.
Our young generation faces lot of complex self-esteem issues, many of which become apparent during early teens. Involving them in the format of workshops, allows them to experience the power of thinking beyond conventional norms without being too moralistic.
Here’s an interesting incidence, as part of my social initiative I met these absolutely stunning and fiercely intelligent young girls and asked them to select a word that defined them. They picked words like strong, fire, power, smile, beautiful. The most striking quality was that they were completely unafraid and beyond inhibitions. They celebrate their individuality and look forward to a bright future, this is the India we wish for.
Mala picked power, and wants to lead a political party.
Ria wants to be a brave pilot, and travel the world.
Girls don’t decide to hate their bodies, we teach them to. She is not going to turn 25, and suddenly bloom into a confident young woman. We have to assure them at every stage that she is unique, because every girl’s self-worth matters.
The only way to develop a healthy attitude towards ‘imperfections’ is to talk to girls when they are in the most vulnerable age group of 11 to 16. We teach them a very important lesson, “When you appreciate someone else it doesn’t make you less beautiful.” Women by nature like to deal with difficulty by empathising and supporting each other, thus empower them as groups.
We make decisions our entire life based on these precious years of growth. A self-assured child is the most powerful source of inspiration. Let them be ambitious, creative and independent. You are beautiful not like the magazines, but because of the way you think, the way you love, the way focus, the way you stand strong, the way you bet on yourself.
Take everything that is bright within you and introduce it someone. As privileged strong women, we should take ownership and inspire the next generation to live fearlessly. When girl’s hold back due to beauty related anxiety, our society misses out.
As social influencers, we have to take a stand not dilute our true perspective for sponsored posts. Blogs can be a catalyst to positive change in our society, it’s a tough journey but I am committed. I will continue to blog about issues that run deeper than the conventional layers for perfection because real beauty is fearless, not flawless.
I dedicate this article to our change makers, our dreamers, our visionaries. It’s my passion and mission to make every girl child have the same opportunity, as I did.