• CBSE Textbook Promotes 36-24-36 Figure As ‘Best’ For Females

    I woke up to the most cringeworthy headline today. A Twitter user named Anuj Khurana had delved into our education system and guess what he found out? A Class 12 Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) textbook is packed with some pretty offensive bodyshaming lessons that teens should be kept miles away from.

    The book has a paragraph explaining the ‘36-24-36’ figure, calling it the “accurate” body shape for females. You know, in case you were wondering what is the perfect body type for women and on that basis, how to objectify them!

    No wonder teens these days are so brutal when it comes to bodyshaming, or slutshaming others!

    Also Read: Roshni Mukherjee’s Endeavour To Revamp The Indian Education System

    Inanity about females at length

    An image of the specific section of the textbook mentioning irrational differences between the physical and anatomical aspects of males and females is making the rounds on social media sites.

    CBSE textbook

    CBSE textbook 2

    However, the CBSE didn’t stop at that! It created a separate portion about body shapes. A cursory sentence in the section states that males, too, should have ‘V’ body shape if they want to be considered the best.

    Quoting The News Minute, “The textbook was published by the New Saraswati House and not the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), which usually brings out textbooks used in CBSE schools.”

    Expert’s Opinion:

    SheThePeople.TV caught up with Dr Swati Popat Vats, President of Podar Education Network, to ask her opinion. She said, “On one side, is it a CBSE board certified textbook or is it a textbook used by some CBSE schools? Because that makes a lot of difference on who to blame. If it is certified by the CBSE board, then there is a huge cause for concern, what is an educational board trying to propagate to our youth? Body shaming? Low self-esteem? Focus on ‘figures’ and not on holistic personality? How are the authors of these books chosen? Do they only have theoretical knowledge or do they have an understanding of how children need to learn? Do they have sensitivity and maturity to be non-judgmental and neutral and bias-free?”

    Resilience, empathy, and sensitivity are the most important life skills that our young children will need in future to be successful in life. It is education and schools that are supposed to impart these very important skills, but the foundation of these skills is completely astray because of such text books that are chosen for young impressionable minds 

    She further said, “But if it is not certified by the CBSE board and used by some schools then it opens a completely different Pandora’s box. Why are schools choosing these text books that are not approved by NCERT? It is a strong publishers’ lobby that is getting ‘hacks’ to write these books? But then a strong question, why are principals choosing these books, do they lack the basic knowledge about what content is right or wrong for children to read in an educational institution?”

    A lot of these ‘moronic’ facts have surfaced in textbooks, the kitten experiment is the most appalling as it actually motivates children to try and kill a cat! 

    “Text books should be checked by the Principal and in case he/she is unable to check them all, then the head of department of that particular subject with the help of the subject teachers should go through the text books with a fine tooth comb to ensure that the important life skills are not being butchered by incorrect facts in the text books. Young minds are already being bombarded with incorrect facts from the internet and media. Let us at least keep them safe in the text books that our schools use, this is important because text books sanctioned by a school means that the facts, errors given in the books are also sanctioned by the school. Educational institutions need to take their responsibility more seriously and help nurture life skills and not damage them,” she claimed.

    A series of misconceptions:

    This is not the first time that CBSE has been targeted for such content. Just a week ago, Class 12 students were asked to answer which practice between burial and cremation was better. Also, last year in Decenber, the board was in news for the class IX social science textbook topic on ‘Caste conflict and dress change’.

    Also Read: Pilot To Champion For Children’s Education Story Of Capt. Indrani Singh

    Earlier this year, the board was all over the news after it came to light that a Class 4 textbook for environmental studies apparently had some content to encourage students to conduct an experiment that could lead to a kitten’s death.

    The biological facts:

    Coming back to the “appropriate” body context, let me give you some factual information. There is a biological reason for narrow waist-broader hips distribution for women. The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is not associated with women’s health, fecundity and cognitive ability. Scientific assessments verify that a woman with a small waist to hip ratio (WHR) is the most healthy and fertile. But c’mon, it is completely inane reasoning! The real fact is how attractive females with perfect bodies turn men on.

    “The waist is one of the distinguishing human features,” says Professor Devendra Singh at the University of Texas, The Independent reports. “No other primate has one. We developed it as a result of another unique feature — standing upright. We needed bigger buttock muscles for walking on two legs.”

    “Men and women lay down fat in different ways,” claims Professor Singh, adding, “In childhood, they are much the same but, come puberty, the sex hormones start directing it differently. Oestrogen, the hormone of female sexual characteristics, concentrates it on the buttocks and hips while the masculinising hormone testosterone encourages fat to form around the waist. At the same time, testosterone encourages fat to be burnt off the buttocks while oestrogen takes it off the abdomen.”

    So if we go by CBSE’s standards, most of us don’t own a perfect 36-24-36 bod. Beauty is only skin deep!

    Read More Stories By Ria Das

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