Er. It might be irony. I’m still a little fuzzy on the definition… ^_^
But anyway. I stumbled an article. New Views in Desert Culture on Fat Women. Let me quote some relevant bits for you. I’m having a hard time deciding which ones to pick, so you should really go read the whole thing. It’s not very long.
Mey Mint struggles to carry her weight up the flight of stairs, her thighs shaking with each step. It will take several minutes for the 50-year-old to catch her breath, air hissing painfully in and out of her chest. Her rippling flesh is not the result of careless overeating, though, but rather of a tradition.
In Mauritania, to make a girl big and plump, ‘gavage’ _ a borrowed French word from the practice of fattening of geese for foie gras _ starts early. Obesity has long been the ideal of beauty, signaling a family’s wealth in a land repeatedly wracked by drought.
Mint was 4 when her family began to force her to drink 14 gallons of camel’s milk a day. When she vomited, she was beaten. If she refused to drink, her fingers were bent back until they touched her hand. Her stomach hurt so much she prayed all the animals in the world would die so that there would be no more milk.
By the time Mint was 10, she could no longer run. Unconcerned, her proud mother delighted in measuring the loops of fat hanging under her daughter’s arms.
“My mother thinks she made me beautiful. But she made me sick,” says Mint, who suffers from weight-related illnesses including diabetes and heart disease. She asked that her full last name not be disclosed because she feels embarrassed.
OKay. This is the intro, more or less. In the first paragraph, it’s obvious Mint is not healthy. She sounds kinda like me after I’ve had to run for a little bit. The only difference is that I’m skinny. Therefore I can’t possibly be unhealthy.
Gavage: fattening geese for fois gras. Um…yeah… Look, I’m a little bit at a loss for words. I’ll see if I can make this coherent.
Mint is not healthy. But it’s not because she’s obese. It’s because she’s been FORCEFED SINCE SHE WAS FOUR YEARS OLD. I wonder if it ever occurred to the authors of this article that there’s very little difference between societal pressure to overeat and societal pressure to undereat – both to meet unattainable/unrealistic beauty “ideals.” Probably not.
And please don’t get me started on how it’s only ever women that have to do all this ridiculous shit to themselves to be “beautiful.” I… It will make me start swearing again.
Also, in the last paragraph of the above quoted chunk, they say that diabetes and heart disease are “weight-related illnesses.” Correct me if I’m wrong (actually you can’t, because I’m right), but I seem to recall Kate Harding mentioning frequently that there is pretty much exactly ZERO correlation between obesity and those diseases. Genetics and things like smoking, on the other hand…
To end the brutal feeding practices, the government has launched a TV and radio campaign highlighting the health risks of obesity. Because most Mauritanian love songs describe the ideal woman as fat, the health ministry commissioned catchy odes to thin women.
Couldn’t we have an ode to healthy women? Please? Because I’m sorry. Force-feeding camel’s milk is just as brutal as starving oneself. I’d really prefer that Mauritania didn’t just exchange one set of unhealthy beauty “ideals” for ours. 😦