Although in the West we are used to one standard of beauty – thin, mostly white – this has not yet spread world-wide. However, as this BBC reports reveals, that does not mean the rest of the world is any more enlightened.
In Mauritania, women have traditionally been seen as more attractive if they were fat, even obese. This is so well-established, that girls as young as seven are still being sent to ‘wife fattening farms’, where they are force fed until they weigh anywhere between 60 and 100 kg.
One woman who runs such a farm told the BBC: “Of course they cry – they scream. We grab them and we force them to eat. If they cry a lot we leave them sometimes for a day or two and then we come back to start again. They get used to it in the end.”
As Western ideas of beauty take hold, this practice has fallen out of favour, so that ‘only’ one in 10 girls are put through this ordeal.
Although some say that this is being replaced by a more “natural” look, one 19 year old man’s comments reveal that this is still defined by men – not be women: “We’re fed up of fat women here. Always fat women! Now we want thin women.”