BENGALURU: In the entire debate of good touch, bad touch and being comfortable with one’s body, what’s most important and often missed is the right way to educate young minds on these issues.
Your body is Yours (Pratham Books, Rs 50), a recently launched book by writer Yamini Vijayan and illustrator Aindri C, can help parents and teachers in this matter.
Although the idea for a book came from the editorial team of the publication, Vijayan was drawn towards the idea because there’s very little written about body awareness for children, especially in the Indian context.
“In India, it’s still rare to see open and honest conversations about the body between adults and children. When it comes to talking about changes in the body or even something like safe and unsafe touch, there’s a deep sense of embarrassment and awkwardness. With our book, we hope to spark more conversations around body positivity, body awareness and consent. Words like penis and vulva shouldn’t be said with embarrassment, these are just parts of our body after all,” she says, adding that it’s extremely crucial for children to understand that in cases of violation, it’s never, ever their fault.
For the research of the book, which is now out in English and Kannada, Vijayan widely read on the subject and also spoke to a few people who work in the realm of child safety.
But her biggest challenge was in settling on a voice and tone for the book. Though the book has been accepted well by many, Vijayan does agree that she did have initial inhibitions about how it would be perceived.
“I must admit that I had concerns when it came to how the book will be received. But only because of the existing culture of silence and shame that surrounds conversations about our bodies. At the same time, I was convinced that for that to change, we need to – as parents and educators – shed our own inhibitions,” says Vijayan.
For a good picture book, it’s important that the words and illustrations come together seamlessly, and luckily the collaboration was effortlessly complementary.
“Elise Gravel’s Consent Explained to Children was one of my main inspirations for this project. The premise of Your Body is Yours is young people exploring themselves outdoors in nature, being unafraid, relaxed and rested,” explains Andri, adding that it is important that information that is being created through literature and communication is not patronising and moralising to a young person.
The cover image shows a girl who is enjoying the sun on her. “I came across an observation that many girls end up with a stooped posture because of the experience of being groped in public and shamed for their chests. I wanted the cover image of a girl to be unafraid of scrutiny and harassment,” she says.
Starting a dialogue with children on touch, consent and right to say no are B’luru-based author Yamini Vijayan and illustrator Aindri C, who try to create awareness on these matters though their new book