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“Oh no, ye itna patla hai!”
“Isse kuch khilaatee pilaatee bhi hai yaa nahin?”
“Bechara, itna kamzor hai. Ghee khila isse!”
“Nutritionist se milee kya, apne bachon ke liye?”
“Yeh kuch khaata nahin kya, itna patla hai!”
These and a countless other statements, all echoing the same sentiments, that hurt the mom in me to the core. I hear these “voices” from supposed well wishers, but they make my blood boil. I cry. I yell. I am angry. I am sad. I am disappointed.
And then I get protective. Why should my kids be “weighed” down under this nonsense? I started writing this post as a means of catharsis, as a means of venting, as something which I do not intend to keep silent about anymore.
I’m doing this for my sons, my pride, my joy and my life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My beautiful kids, my twin boys, were born 38 weeks into my high-risk, precious pregnancy. They were born tiny, weighing 2.5 and 1.75 kgs respectively, but they were to me, perfect in every single way. I was thrilled with the fact that I had carried my twins almost to term, and as is normal in most twin cases, they came out tinier than singleton babies, but happy, healthy, and screaming their way into the world, claiming my heart forever.
My boys did not have the time or the space in my womb to develop the baby fat and chubby cheeks everyone expects of new babies. They were angular, quite tiny, fragile (as all babies are!) and fine (much to my relief!).
Both took to breastfeeding like a fish takes to water, and despite the obvious agony of all my family elders who felt that I wouldn’t ‘make enough’ milk to feed both of them, with the support of my excellent pediatrician, my husband and my mother I accomplished my goal of exclusive breastfeeding for their first year.
Every visit to the doctor’s office that year was fraught with agony and tension for me. Were my boys too thin? Were they not getting enough to eat? Were they failing to thrive? Were they gaining enough weight? Each visit and its outcome made me more and more confident- so what if my boys were tiny, they were getting enough to eat made obvious by their steady weight gain over the year (30 grams per day was the target!) and they were thriving, and meeting all their developmental milestones.
As a mother, the biggest thing you fear is not doing enough for your child. And that’s exactly what I was told every single day by supposed well meaning people. To them, thinness in children automatically meant malnourishment. Their puny frame implied that I was not feeding them enough. Their thin limbs were supposedly a result of me not giving them a “thorough” massage. Never mind the fact that their weight was steadily increasing. Never mind the fact that massage ministrations were my favourite part of the day- hearing my babies chortle and gurgle in delight while I did all I could to make them stronger and healthier was plenty of motivation for me to continue to do this till they turned 18 months.
Even now that they are toddlers, their frame is slight, but well proportioned. Their body structure is unlike me and my husband’s (we are constantly fighting the battle of the bulge!). They are incredible children. Of course, I’m their mom, I would say that, but I truly believe it. I don’t know what they will turn out to be, artists, musicians, dancers, engineers, doctors. I know they have a love for books, which will take them places. But I also know they are smart boys who will find success in whatever they choose to do.
So to all those people who thin shame my children, and ask them to their face- hey bhagwaan, tum itne patle kyun ho? Or who tell me that I am not looking after them well enough or not feeding them enough- PLEASE STOP. PLEASE.
You don’t know my daily struggle as a mother. You don’t know that I look up nutritional labels for everything. That I have tried EVERYTHING to help my kids gain weight. That I go bonkers hunting for the best avocados in the market because they are the “good fats” which will make my boys think better. That I try to force feed them dry fruits and grind them and make them into a paste and try a 100 different ways to get them into their tiny little stomachs so that they gain that 10 gms of weight.
My kids deserve better than a forever anxious mother worrying about their weight, and by God, I have made a promise to myself to never ever become an overtly protective mom who is constantly cribbing about her kids in public or in private.
No one has the right to judge another person, especially when that other person is a child, and more importantly, if it is based on their weight. Just like you don’t have the authority to call me “fat” to my face, you don’t or rather shouldn’t have the need to call my kids “thin”, “skinny” or “under nourished” to their face. They may be only 2.5 years old and unable to associate those words with their meaning, but deep down the look on your face when you say the words is making them cringe and hate those words forever, giving them a very negative connotation.
Let my kids enjoy their joyous childhood. Don’t make it tougher for them, and for me. As decent human beings, we need to get out of this vicious circle of body shaming, and especially when kids are involved. We need to figure out how to tell our kids about acceptance, good health, and loving themselves as they are, without any physical constraints. Let’s just get rid of all the societal pressures and expectations and go easy on each other. That’s what true acceptance is all about.
Please. Stop. Thin Shaming. My. Children.