Women in Mauritania force fed for marriage

Here our “modern brides” starve themselves to fit into their wedding dresses. In this particular instance, women are being forced to overeat to fit into a beauty image that demands a larger woman.

The traditions of the desert are very much alive in Mauritania, an Islamic republic on the western edge of the Sahara whose people were still almost entirely nomadic when the country gained independence from France in 1960.
Having a voluptuous wife and daughters — well fed to survive the rigors of a desert lifestyle — was long a visible sign of wealth and power among the country’s light-skinned Moors. It is still seen by many as a canon of beauty.
But with Lebanese satellite television broadcasting images of flat-stomached girls cavorting on beaches, and more Mauritanians traveling abroad, the vogue is starting to change.
More than one in five women in Mauritania, which straddles black and Arab Africa, were force-fed as young girls, according to a government survey from 2001, the latest available.
“Our society has this vision that a woman has to be fat to be beautiful. It is a canon of beauty,” said Marienne Baba Sy, head of a government commission that deals with women’s issues.

Having a differing sense of beauty outside the thin and white matrix would be nice, but why the force feeding? Why are women world-wide still expected to look a certain way for the male gaze?

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