Structure… Stature… Status!
Quaden Bayles from Australia is now a familiar household name… the nine-year-old boy recently wanted to commit suicide. His mother, Yarraka Bayles, posted a clip of Quaden, crying after he was targeted at school for his dwarfism, on the Social Media…
What circumstances prompted a nine-year-old child to commit suicide? It seems that it is not possible for a child of his age to develop the sense of self ! There is a short phrase behind Quaden’s trauma… Body Shaming! It is because of his short stature, he has been harassed by his classmates. His friends have made fun of him because of his height. In such a situation, Quaden has felt existential crisis that is unusual at his age. And, he has made an attempt to isolate himself from this world. His mother has spread the heartbreaking video to almost every corner of the globe. As the video went viral, many, including Hollywood Star Hugh Jackman, have condemned Body Shaming, and urged Quaden to overcome this crisis and to live a normal life.
The video of Quaden crying has been viewed millions of times online
Had his mother not shared the video, the Global Community might have lost one of its young members! The society is still not aware of the fact that Body Shaming is a crime (even from the moral point of view). Many people commit this crime every day everywhere in this world… the Whites openly use derogatory comments against the Blacks… the talls use against the shorts… the physically fits use against the seemingly unfits.
Is it the eternal scenario? Perhaps, not! At least, the Indian (Hindu) Mythology tells a different story. The hymns of many of the Hindu deities begin with their physical description! For example, one can mention Lord Ganesha, whose characteristic head of an elephant and plump figure makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences, and the Hindu God of intellect and wisdom. The hymn, related to him, starts with ‘Bakratunda Mahakaya‘… or the ‘Superpower with a broken jawline‘! He is portrayed as an obese personality… but, other Gods never targeted him for his awkward physical features. The Indian Mythology also praises many Hindu Goddesses for their physical beauty. Hindus, popularly known as idol worshipers, portray their Gods in a realistic way. Therefore, the Indian society has never welcomed Body Shaming, historically.
Lord Shiva, a painting by Jamini Roy
In his publication ‘Madness and Civilisation‘ (1961), French Philosopher Paul-Michel Foucault (October 15, 1926 – June 25, 1984) stated that intellectually impaired and mad people used to enjoy a special status in Europe in the Middle Ages. At that time, the mainstream society had made no attempt to isolate them. The scenario changed in the 18th Century when Rationalism started influencing the society. Foucault explained that the concept of Rationalism had encouraged the society to see the human body through a particular Ideology. As a result, the place of variation or diversity started shrinking, gradually.
In the 19th Century, dwarfs found their places in circuses as jokers! It was essentially a modern display of Western Culture, according to Foucault. The Western society used to consider dwarfs as sources of entertainment. One may argue that the Jesters‘ presence was there in the Feudal Assembly or in the Court of a Monarch in Medieval Europe. During the Medieval and Renaissance eras, Jester was a member of the household of a nobleman or a monarch, employed to entertain him and his guests. A jester was also an itinerant performer who used to entertain common folk at fairs and markets. However, some of them were wise persons, who had rescued the Feudal Lords during a crisis period! Unfortunately, this view changed in the 18th-19th Century. Since then, people has considered a person with a muscular body as an ideal man, and a lady with hourglass figure as an ideal woman! The West and its former colonies are yet to come out from this traditional thought process…
Quaden with his mother
One should not forget that bodybuilding had become one of the most important parts of social reform in the 19th Century. That body was not so far from today’s Six Pack body! A rural painter recently triggered a controversy in India by painting an image of Lord Shiva, showing the God as a common man. The Indians, who are habituated to see Lord Shiva as a muscular person, are yet to accept the painter’s concept. According to a section of Sociologists, the legacy of the colonialism has an impact on neo-Hinduism… and neo-Hinduism is, in a way, re-paying its debt to colonialism through fierce communalism!
Meanwhile, the scenario has considerably improved in the last five-seven years. We have come to know about Body Shaming via the Social Media. In the 1980s, people used to bully bulky young men even in rural India. Although Obesity is still considered as a disease, people no more make fun of bulky men or dusky women. Unfortunately, Quadens are still there in this world and they are struggling hard to survive. Their survival depends on us, as we will have to behave sensibly with them…
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