Beauty in Bulk

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The most striking article that I came across on my search for differences in cultural beauty standards was one about women in Mauritania, a country located in Northern Africa and about the size of Egypt. In the article "Mauritania's Wife Fattening Farm" BBC news sheds light on a view of beauty unlike that of the Western world. In this country fat women, categorized as obese, are considered desirable to men. So much so that young girls are being force fed and even punished for not eating. This phenomenon of beauty is so opposite of American norms of beauty even Oprah featured this difference in an episode that aired in 2008. Her guest Houda, the daughter of a Mauritanian doctor, said that "when you're skinny, you're even considered as sick or there's something wrong with you". When I compared this country's idea of beauty to what our book said on physical attraction I found both differences and similarities. One part that didn't match up with the book is the idea that men look for women with a hip to waist ratio of .7 because in this nation the larger all the way around you are the more desirable you are to men. On the other hand Mauritania's culture matches the textbook in the aspect that men are attracted to younger women, with kids as young as 10 getting married. Our society is so concerned with the pressures media put on women to be thin but I had never thought about it to the other extreme and the health effects that come along with forced obesity.mauritania-woman_5106.jpg

6 Comments

You did a very nice job with this post. I went and read the BBC article and it was astonishing to me how two cultures can clash in such a manner. In my eyes this article should be a testimonial to all women in the United States who are persecuted for their size. However I did wonder if the girls in Mauritania are going through the same negative pressures from society, except the opposite and how demoralizing it may feel to those girls who have no control over their size. Overall I found the article eye opening and it defiantly reminded me of the difference culture can make in a person's life and society.

I love this post. I don't know if anyone watched the series with Jessica Simpson "The Price of Beauty" but I watched a few and it was beyond interesting. One that relates to your topic was a little girl who was being forced fed a mixture of milk right from an animal that was mixed with fat and other high calorie liquids. The poor girl (3ish) was crying so hard and her mother sat next to her, and would beat her and squeeze her feet together with some sort of wood structure. The girl was crying because she felt sick from the mixture and because she was hurting from her mother's abuse. Crazy to think that A the mom wanted to start getting the girl plump at such a young age and would go through great lengths to get her to eat.

I thought the blog was very interesting. Its strange to think that what a society thinks is desirable can affect what doctors in that country can deem "healthy." Regardless of whether what is desirable is healthy or not, I find it hard to grasp how a mother can force her child to become something against there will, like you described in this blog. Good job, it really got me thinking.

Wow, this a a very interesting post. Never would I have guessed that women would be forced to obesity for attraction to men. I knew that there are men out there that find more obese looking women to be more attractive than a fit and more athletic build type of woman, but never a whole country. Great read!

Wow, interesting post! Its really eye-opening when you look at what is found to be attractive in different cultures. Being born and raised in America, its really easy to assume that everywhere around the world thinks being thin is better. This is similar to the fact that centuries ago, having fair skin was considered luxurious and attractive because it meant you were wealthy and didn't have to toil in the fields. Now, people pay to lie in tanning beds and get their skin darker. The differences in what people think is attractive varies incredibly not only across cultures, but also through history.

I had never heard about this and found it extremely interesting and eye opening to read. I feel that the Mauritanian culture is on one extreme and the American culture is on the other. Mauritanians put pressure on women to be much larger for beauty, whereas Americans put pressure on women to be thin in order to be appealing and attractive. The standards of beauty both cultures put on women are imbalanced to me and that there should be a healthy, happy medium. I don't think anyone should be force-fed anymore than I think women should starve themselves. There should be a healthy balance between eating just enough without having to go over the top about fixations on weight gain, food, etc. Reading this article made me aware of the beauty extremes cultures put on women and I find them to be unfortunate in that women have to go to such measures to appear to be "beautiful". Beauty should be not just about a physical appearance, but in taking care of character, personality, and respecting the body by eating healthy portions! Just my opinions on it all. Thanks for posting about this!

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This page contains a single entry by patra011 published on April 8, 2012 11:24 PM.

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