Yesterday, Oprah Winfrey discussed beauty rituals and standards around the world on her talk show. I had no idea Iran was the “nose job capital of the world,” but I was really shocked that Mauritanian women don’t want to be thin. Plump is sexy for women there, but men are expected to be thin. Thick ankles, chubby arms, and a big butt are considered the most beautiful parts of a woman in this West African nation. Men even like stretch marks! Thin women are thought of as being sickly. But don’t move to Mauritania just yet because this beauty ideal has its own flaws.The ways these women maintain their weight is not at all pleasant and can be unhealthy. Although force feeding is frowned upon by the government, in remote areas old habits are hard to break. Young girls are subjected to the practice of “gavage,” or force feeding, so they fatten up and get a husband. Some girls are forced to eat couscous and high-fat camel’s milk for hours each day in the exhausting heat. And when they vomit, they’re simply given another helping of food. Some women living in the progressive cities also adopt unsafe practices to plump up their physique. They buy black-market drugs meant for animals.
Being a divorced woman in Mauritania also wins points. Apparently, the men find divorced, large women extremely seductive. And the more a woman is divorced, the more attractive she becomes. “So if you are divorced with stretch marks and a big butt, Mauritania is calling your name!” joked Oprah. [Oprah]