Nagpur: A text book of CBSE class XII says ’36-24-36′ or the hour-glass shape is the perfect figure for girls while V shape is fine for boys. This may sound very sexist but this can be equally scoring for you if you land such a question in your exam.
A media report claimed that a Standard XII textbook, which is used in many CBSE schools, titled ‘Health and Physical Education’, the book’s author Dr VK Sharma writes that “36-24-36 shape of females is considered the best”. Though the figures have been struck off in the latest edition by publishers New Saraswati House (NSH), the replacement words can cause further damage.
The revised November 2016 edition replaces the figures with the sentence “the hourglass shape of females is considered the best”. As a justification, the author adds, “that is why in Miss World, Miss Universe competitions such body shapes are taken into consideration”. Most dictionaries define hourglass figure as “the shape of a woman’s body if she has a small waist and large breasts and hips”.
On Wednesday, NSH told this newspaper that they are “stopping the printing, selling and distribution of the revised book with immediate effect”.
NSH’s statement accepted that “some of the points may have remained uncorrected due to an oversight and hence the new edition of this book is also being reviewed by our editorial board and any inconsistencies found will be corrected”.
While women were given the maximum ‘advice’ in the book, boys weren’t spared either. One sentence read: “V-shaped body in case of males is considered the best”. In the older version, the book had talked about the statistics again in a different chapter with reference to fitness.
It said, “to get a perfect shape of 36-24-36 is not a bed of roses”, and that women are not “conscious about the maintenance of their figures”. The latter has been replaced saying women “are not conscious about the maintenance of their appropriate body fitness”.
Adolescent counsellor and medical practitioner Dr Rajiv Mohta said, “Std XII students are at an impressionable age and if any perceived authoritative source tells them that the hourglass figure is considered to be best, then they may go to any lengths to achieve that. Focus of physical education must be on fitness and not giving such definitive stats that are medically incorrect.”
Though many CBSE schools use this book, the board has taken strong exception to its name being associated with the controversy. Board spokesperson Rama Sharma said, “CBSE does not recommend books by any private publishers to the affiliate schools. Rule 15.1 (d) of the affiliation-bye-laws states that the schools will exercise extreme care while selecting books of private publishers.”
It basically means that schools will have to face the music if any controversy erupts. Sharma said, “The by-laws further mandate that the school will put a list of such books prescribed by it on its website with the written declaration duly signed by the manager and the principal to the effect that they have gone through the contents of the books prescribed by the school and own the responsibility.”
A principal, who did not want to be identified, said the “terms are very offensive”. “Not just to me but to my girl students too. Even the word ‘hourglass’ is very derogatory,” she said.