I have always pondered over why some people are racists. Why do we body shame others? Are those feelings embedded in us? Or is it something we are taught?
Does it have to do with our perception or to be precise, society’s perception? Let’s take an example of two children, both of them drew an apple. One was perfectly shaped and red, whereas the other one was irregular and dull. Which kid would you congratulate, which drawing looked like a real apple? Obviously the one who drew the perfect apple. Why is that? Are all apples perfect and red?
Let me talk about another example based on a true incident. A teacher showed a picture to the entire class while she was giving away the answer sheets. She found it hilarious. It was the image of a leg, which was labelled, but unlike the representation in the textbook, which was fair, thin and well-shaped, this was brown, fat and long. Why was she was making fun of it, don’t people have such legs?
These two examples illustrate humans’ obsession with perfection. If you take 100 apples, how many of it will be perfectly shaped? How many of us have slim, fair and well-defined legs? What should be represented? Reality or perfection?
People are body shamed because kids are shown the perfect figure for a human; they are taught that legs are perfectly shaped, tummies are flat, hands are muscular and what not. The reality and how reality is represented is just too far apart. Everyone calls out Instagram for making people hate their bodies, ever realized that our education system does the same?
The culture and notion are so much biased that it is impossible to express it in words. Is a human brain born to recognize beauty, or does it learn? Look at our religious texts, Ram, Jesus, Krishna; everyone is good looking. We are inherently, unknowingly equating beauty (as per the established standards) with superiority. Why is that? Is it evolutionary? Or is it the result of a wrong turn our society took thousands of years ago?
There have been various studies to understand the science of human attraction. Some suggest that there are evolutionary reasons for it. The evolutionary advantage theory suggests symmetrical faces are perceived as more attractive because the symmetry indicates good health in an individual. Sadly even this study does not explain racism. Men and women who are flawless as per our beauty standards are treated differently because of their skin colour.
The skin colour bias that exists in the world can be attributed to the economic and social conditions of our present world. The western world is predominantly wealthy; they are predominantly white too. Even in India, most of the land was in the hands of the higher castes. They never worked in the field; they never had to work with the sun beating down on their backs. Obviously, they were fair, well-fed, and the body attributes evolved accordingly and was passed down to their successors. Unfortunately, this also created a social mirage that discriminated people based on their skin color even today.
Why do we need reasons and answers to treat our fellow beings with respect and equality? How should we live our lives? Based on our evolutionary instincts, and the appalling notions our society has instilled? Or by the knowledge, we gain, the values and virtues we founded? We are the only ones out there in this world who can think, dream and learn. Don’t you think it’s time we let go of these vulgar notions and perspectives? We need a world free of prejudices and discriminations, a world where everyone is accepted for who they are, and not what the world wants them to be.