The African Country Where Women Are Forced to Gain Weight

The African Country Where Women Are Forced to Gain Weight

In a world where body image and beauty standards are constantly evolving, it is hard to imagine a place where women are forced to gain weight. However, in the West African country of Mauritania, this is exactly the case. For centuries, Mauritanian society has upheld a cultural ideal of beauty that celebrates larger bodies, particularly in women. This practice, known as “leblouh,” involves the force-feeding of young girls to ensure they attain the desired weight and shape.

Leblouh is deeply rooted in Mauritanian culture and is seen as a way to prepare girls for marriage and motherhood. The belief is that a larger body signifies wealth, health, and fertility. From a young age, girls are subjected to intense feeding rituals that involve consuming large quantities of food, often to the point of discomfort and pain. This process can last for several months or even years, depending on the desired weight gain.

The force-feeding is typically carried out by older women in the family or designated “fatteners.” These women are responsible for monitoring the girls’ progress and ensuring they meet the weight targets set by their families. The food provided during leblouh consists of high-calorie meals, often rich in carbohydrates and fats. Girls are encouraged to eat as much as possible, even when they feel full or sick.

The consequences of leblouh are severe and long-lasting. Many girls suffer from physical and psychological health issues as a result of the force-feeding. The excessive weight gain puts a strain on their bodies, leading to problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Additionally, the psychological impact of being forced to conform to an unrealistic beauty standard can be devastating, leading to low self-esteem, body dysmorphia, and eating disorders.

Despite the harmful effects of leblouh, the practice continues to persist in Mauritanian society. It is deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric and is seen as a necessary rite of passage for girls. Families believe that by subjecting their daughters to leblouh, they are ensuring their future success in finding a suitable husband and securing their place in society.

Efforts to eradicate leblouh have been met with resistance and cultural backlash. The government of Mauritania has implemented laws to criminalize the practice, but enforcement remains a challenge. Many families continue to engage in leblouh behind closed doors, fearing social ostracism if they abandon the tradition.

International organizations and human rights activists have also taken up the cause to raise awareness about the harmful effects of leblouh and advocate for its eradication. They work with local communities to educate them about the dangers of force-feeding and promote alternative beauty standards that celebrate diversity and body positivity.

While progress has been made in recent years, there is still a long way to go in eliminating leblouh from Mauritanian society. Changing deeply ingrained cultural practices requires a multi-faceted approach that involves education, legislation, and community engagement. It is crucial to empower women and girls to challenge societal norms and embrace their bodies as they are, without the pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty standards.

In conclusion, the practice of leblouh in Mauritania is a stark reminder of the damaging effects of cultural beauty ideals. Forcing women to gain weight not only puts their physical and mental health at risk but also perpetuates harmful stereotypes and unrealistic expectations. It is essential to continue the fight against leblouh and promote body positivity and acceptance for all.

Write A Comment