n Mauritania, to make a girl plump, ‘gavage’ — a French word derived from the practice of fattening geese for foie gras — starts early. Obesity has long been the ideal of beauty, the very visible display of a family’s wealth in a land wracked by drought.6 Mauritania is one of several countries in the Arab world where plump — well, larger; oh hell, fat — women are prized for their beauty.
Isselmou Ould Mohamed says he loves his wife’s 200-pound body, and was pleased when she began adding even more weight during pregnancy. But, when he learned that she had started walking around the local soccer stadium to shed the extra pounds, he was revolted.
“I don’t like skinny women. I want to be able to grab her love handles,” said the 32-year-old. “I told her that if she loses a lot of weight, I’ll divorce her.”
Imagine that! Can’t you just see Donald Trump saying to his wife of the moment: “Honey, if you don’t eat another doughnut and get into that size sixteen, I’ll leave you!”? What’s next: exclusive boutiques carrying only size 12 and up; an endless parade of commercials for Fat Fast and Weight Gainers; and, of course, the hit reality TV show -- The Biggest Gainer?
Now, before you book a flight for a week at a Fat Farm in Mauritania, it must be said that some people take this love of big women too far. Force feeding young girls till they cry, and taking illegal animal drugs to gain weight are some of the ways the desire for beauty and status has been perverted. We at The Gramma Sutra heartily denounces these practices and, of course, wants all women to be beautiful and healthy, regardless of their size . . . or their income.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Mauritanian notion of chubbiness as a symbol of wealth and of beauty permeated much of the world. (Mardi Gras) — the last rich, luxurious banquet before the austerity of Lent
In the West, today, skinny equals wealthy. “You can never be too rich or too thin” is the maxim du jour, and a voluptuous figure is now associated with Super-Size dining and the financial inability to afford — in both money and time — a good health club. The pendulum of beauty has swung to the opposite extreme.
Will it ever swing swing back? Of course it will. It always does.
In fact, we believe that it’s swinging already. So, the next time you ponder whether you should have that piece of cake, pie, or pork roast, remember: In Mauritania you’d be considered a waif!
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