“Didi, what can he do to increase his height?” asked one of the participants at the end of the 3rd workshop pointing towards another boy.
It hit like a strong sarcasm, and the same time that look on the boy’s face made me rethink the series of workshop that we had planned to engage with the boys of Government School, Dwarka. The need to talk about Body image and peer pressure seemed quite necessary not merely because of this conversation, but also because during adolescence, along with changes in body, emotions related to one’s body changes, generates curiosity and many a times lead to conflict between how one feels and what society preaches or dictates!
The workshop began with the energizer Haiya, Mafango, and as always the chaos generated was energizing as well as maddening.
We then screened, few advertisements following which a questionnaire was given to each participants- the questions were as simple as whether these advertisements had people of all sizes and shapes etc. The eagerness to answer and to figure out the right answer and why that answer is right took the cake.
Building on the answers given by participants I introduced to them the term “Body image”, what it means, how deeply it affects one’s life, confidence and thought process along with the positive and negative body image. It was intriguing discussion as it involved examples from their conversations, it was about them- so when I asked whether they ever shamed anyone because of their height, weight or color, everyone raised their hands
“You are short, you won’t be able to switch it on. Get down”
“Oh, don’t say that, he will do it”
And yes he switched it on with a beautiful smile on the face unlike the previous quoted example.
The next part of the session was based on peer pressure; to begin with a video was screened.
“He didn’t want to smoke, but his friends forced him”
“He choked, he didn’t like it, but he had to do it otherwise his friends won’t stay with him”
“You know what didi, these things happen in real life, it’s not just a video! The elder guys say that if you don’t spoke you are not a man, you are not strong. You need to try at least”
“He is telling truth, they mock at us, they make fun of us”
This conversation paved the way for the rest of the session. We then played a “Yes” “No” statement games. I must admit I have never witnessed such an honest response; almost every one of the participant has lied for their friends, fought for their friends, most of them had even made girlfriends because their friend had one. Interestingly many of them trusted their friends more than their friends; these statements and responses to them were worth pondering upon and also says a lot about emotional quotient of adolescence. This exercise also proved that talking about peer pressure and the impact it has on adolescents is very important and it needs to be discussed.
“Didi, friends don’t betray us, we can rely on them, they don’t judge us or break our trust” Based on this discussion, peer pressure was explained deeply :-) The next and the last part of the workshop was the best and the most interesting part of the session where the participants were divided into 4 groups- they were given situations and with their understanding of body image and peer pressure, they have to prepare a play and present it in the big group.
In the first play, while few students were more interested in playing cricket tried persuading their friends who were studying for their exams to play along with them, they also lured them by saying that they are playing for money. Two of the boys didn’t agree to them and continued studying and also motivated them to do the same, however other 2 bent to the peer pressure and went on to play cricket
In the second play, where few guys were eve teasing the girls, saying lewd comments on them. Another boy who was in same school as that of girls reported the matter to the class teacher and the principal. The boys were punished and rusticated from the school
In the third play, where two boys wants to be part of cricket team, gives trial for the team and even gets selected. However they become wary of the tall and strong boys and thinks of going to gym and taking supplements but their friend helps them understand the negative aspects of same and tells him to do yoga, have health diet and exercise.
The fourth and the last play was the most interesting play- here one of the boy was teased for his looks and studious nature- he remains positive, teaches bullies a lesson, motivates them to leave cigarette, bad habits and also stops them from eve teasing girls. The play had right character placement- it involved various peer pressure a boy goes through and how he can overcome the same.
“Didi, there is one boy in our class, who is too much into gyming- he even has six pack abs, he keeps talking about body building- can you also make him understand that this is not good for this health”, a boy asked with a stretch on his face.
“I play WWE matches and we put up bets over it. We use mats and nobody has ever bled”
“Did anyone get hurt?” I asked
“Yes, and now I am reconsidering playing. I might resume after I am 20 years. I now know that it’s not good at this stage” answered the boy.
I took a deep breathe, this is exactly what Sahas intends to do- to facilitate adolescents to think, ponder, get right information and then allowing them to make informed decisions. After the workshop got over, we invited them to read the answers for the questions they had put up in the box in the previous workshop. The smile and the happiness on their faces on reading the answers was magical- I was just glad :-)