How to gain weight.
We know about the forced circumcision of young girls in Africa, about the foot-binding of girls in China and about the pressures that oblige girls in the western world to submit to torturous diets and surgery, but Mauritania has a different take on how best to churn out women deemed to be perfect: they have fat farms, not as many as a few decades ago, but they still have them. Government figures suggest that only 11% of young girls are now treated this way ….. ONLY 11%!
It seems that an abundance of flesh has long been a sign of beauty and wealth in Mauritania. No doubt this is a bit of a stereotype, but stereotypes are usually built up around fact, and the fact here seems to be that the fatter the girl, the more she will be sought after.
Obesity in a girl is understood as signifying wealth – the family can afford to eat rather well – and obesity in a married woman signifies that her husband treats her well.
It has been a long-standing tradition that if a family had a girl they wanted to marry off to a well-to-do husband they would fatten her up first, a task undertaken by specialists. Such ladies force-feed girls from as young as 7 years old, using physical coercion and punishment if necessary. They openly admit that the girls are afraid, they cry for their families and don’t want to be fattened, but the families persist so that they will end up with a rotund and eminently attractive daughter.
Times are changing however and it is openly admitted that the criteria for beauty are changing too, but is that really the point? It seems that girls will always fell obliged to comply with other people’s preferences, whether that be for a stick insect or a hippopotamus.
Anyway, what’s so wrong with wanting to marry a girl who is just simply happy?