where fat is ‘beauty’

July 31, 2010 § 8 Comments

Ever wished you lived in a place where fat was celebrated, and stretch marks considered the height of beauty?

I pondered that today as I stared at the weighing scale, the needle hovering over a number that I really, really hate.

For the girls living in Mauritania, that form of beauty is a reality. Except, they probably wish they weren’t pushed into living a different ideal. Like how we sign up for workouts that force us to exercise till we want to puke, these girls are sent to a form of fat boot-camp where they are made to eat continuously for days on end.

The goal? To gain massive amounts of weight in hope that they become marriage-worthy.

In Mauritania, a wife’s fat is a symbol of a husband’s wealth in the drought-prone country. A teenage girl is therefore sent to these fat boot-camps where they eat huge quantities of goat’s milk, oily couscous, pounded millet mixed with water, eggs, peanuts and anything else that can pile on the pounds in the shortest amount of time. Feel full? You still got to eat, and eat they do till they want to throw up but if that happens, they are then forced to eat what they threw up.

Almost 80% of the girls in that country are force-fed this way between the ages of 7 and 14. Their daily caloric quota ranges between 14,000 and 16,000. In between their gastronomical meals, they lie down on straw mats to digest their meals without expending energy.

Not all the girls consider being fat as beautiful though. But here, culture and tradition have the upper hand in the decision-making.

I continued to stare at my weighing machine and managed a thin-lipped smile. At least, I have a choice. The media and environment I live in are starting to wage war against being thin but it’s still up to me to decide what beauty is, and to live my life according to what I deem acceptable. I am extremely grateful to be able to have that choice.

I’ll run later today but it won’t be a battle to lose weight.

Instead, I’ll be celebrating the freedom I have to don my running shoes and wobble down the tracks.

(See the original article here)

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