To many people in Western culture the ideal of “fat” as beauty may be a shocker. Our standard of beauty is tall, thin, and fit. I was recently watching the TV show “Taboo” when a segment about gavage came on. I was not able to to catch the entire episode so I decided to do my own research. Gavage is essentially force-feeding.
Gavage is mostly done in North Africa and in the Middle East. This practice takes place because the more curvy and plumper a woman is, the more she is desired and the easier she can marry. Thin girls are considered a shame to their family.
Forced-feeding is so important to their culture that it borders abusing the young girls. When they are full and don’t want anymore to eat “zayar sticks” are used as a punishment to get them to eat. Mothers use “zayar sticks” to clamp the child’s toes to force them to eat. The community sees this as acceptable because the mother is using the practice to ensure her child’s future.
On http://www.parallelozero.com/I found info from the Health Ministry, that at least one woman in ten has suffered the practice of force-feeding based on couscous, camel milk and sometimes hormone pills. The reason is to guarantee the woman a good marriage: for Mauritania’s Muslim men, a decent woman shouldn’t weigh less than 100 kg.
Being “fat” is a symbol of power,wealth, and beauty. The women do experience heath issues due to their weight but many do not regret their mother’s force-feeding them.