Beauty in Mauritania – A different perspective
When we think of beautiful, desirable women, the western world associates these adjectives to thin, fit women with model-like physiques. This is what society teaches the community and therefore, this is what is learned. The western world norms, although influences many around the world, has not influenced all societies – especially those in Africa.
Mauritania, is an Arab Maghreb country in West Africa, would be the perfect example. “A generation ago, over a third of women in the country were force-fed as children. It is said that the practice of force-feeding also known as “Gavage” is to improve a woman’s marriage prospect. Mauritania is one of the few African countries where, on average, girls receive more food than boys. Now only around one in 10 girls are treated this way. The treatment has its roots in fat being seen as a sign of wealth – if a girl was thin she was considered poor, and would not be respected.”
This is still the case in rural parts of the country. You can find “Fat Farms” where their focus is to increase a girl’s weight. Although the practice of “gavage” can well be argued depending on who you are talking to, the violence on humanity, especially children who are tortured to be fattened needs to be an awareness spoken of – A choice not force. While skin bleaching products increase in other countries regardless of its danger, artificial “gavage” products are being put in the market with serious danger to women. Women desperate to fatten themselves go for these illegal enhancing products which bloats them up but with major health issues. Some of the products are even meant for animals such as camels but surprisingly they still go for it whether aware or unaware. This shows how desperate some are, even if it means having liver problems. Today, the perception of beauty has more of a focus on health rather than force-feeding women, but the idea of “big and beautiful” is still celebrated by many.