I belong to the classic 90s kids group. We have a lot of great moments we look back at and smile- be it Mario, or Powerpuff Girls reruns. Girls in fifth grade never dressed up too much to impress boys, and their male counterparts had their priorities set straight on finding their Pokemon. What we see all around these days is an inherent need to grow up too much, too soon.
School should be one place where one can just be, not worrying about anything but their academics (and not wanting to fold their skirts maybe? :P). But times have changed, it seems. Call it social conditioning, but the generation-next, it seems, has better (or worse?) things to take care of. We have really young girls wanting to look really old according to their age. Advertisements and the entertainment industry in general is a major factor behind the unrealistic body standards that have been set for these young girls, following which many girls in their adolescent age suffer from eating disorders (Seriously, I still had baby fat rolls back in seventh grade! ).
Looking physically ‘fit’ (however much skewed the definition of ‘fit’ might be) is a priority over actually being fit.
Thigh gaps being the latest fad, is turning into an obsession amongst young girls. This problem is so magnified that half of these girls are worried about how they look even before they hit puberty and this takes a major toll on their health, especially if they try to cut down on their supplementary diet. And this isn’t an issue which only affects young girls, but also young boys.
One issue that really needs to be addressed is the fact that at such young age, kids really need not worry about how they look. A lot of adolescents deal with depression, as a consequence of battling with low self esteem.
According to a study, with regard to epidemiology of depression in children and adolescents in a community sample from south India, Srinath et al reported a prevalence of 0.1% in the 4-16 year age group and no child in the age group 0-3 was diagnosed to have depression.
Think about it. Your thirteen year old child dealing with depression due to such frivolous reasons which will hardly ever matter in real life scenario. And having to look physically good isn’t the only reason behind that. A sudden wave of elitist desires is taking over the adolescent generation in India these days. We live an age where a child’s ‘standards’ are set by the mobile phone he/she uses and the car that he/she drives to school.
Association of ‘standards’ with brands is a common sight these days, but what does it really lead to? It is absolutely pointless!
They have such superficial parameters to judge each other and label them with. This eventually leads to competition amongst friends and peers, and in absolutely frivolous areas, for instance, who wears a better brand of watch? So, basically, the healthy competition that the Indian education system has been trying to inculcate into the schooling system all boils down to a comparative chart between peers on the basis of the clubs that they visit and the restaurants they eat at.
Schools have students coming from various social and financial backgrounds and it is certainly not possible for every family to provide their kids with such ‘luxury’ items, and the children falling into this category often end up battling with low self esteem issues because they have been conditioned to believe that their worth is directly proportional to the material things (and the brands of those) that they possess. This can be extremely damaging for those kids since their personalities get shaped in these fundamental building years and these issues tailgate them to their adulthood which can majorly hamper their growth and deeply affect their personal and professional lives.
This issue gives rise to another major issue. Bullying.
And that is something which is equivalent to mental harassment. Think about it. Merely twelve year old kids unnecessarily being forced to deal with mental harassment and at such an impressionable stage of their lives at that! And the ones on the other side of the fence often build unrealistic expectations from their lives and end up getting disappointed and even slipping into depression later on.
We often dismiss this issue as something juvenile but what we tend to forget is the fact that this a deep rooted issue which can do make permanent damage to an individual’s life. This problem is highly magnified and needs to be catered to very meticulously.