History’s Taboos # 2: Gavage in Mauritania: The Beauty of Obesity

Posted: June 8, 2013 in History's Taboos
Tags: , , , , ,

Taboo: Gavage is the act of giving food or drugs by force, especially to an animal. In other words it is the process of force-feeding. And in Mauritania (a country in West Africa) some parents force their daughters to eat and eat until they cannot eat anymore. And once they are filled they are forced to eat more. Certain stories tell of girls being tortured for refusing to overeat. Mauritania is (was?) a country that believes obesity is beautiful. Some men in the country prefer to marry women who are purposefully overweight and therefore parents often fatten up their daughters to increase their chances of being married.

Breakdown: Mauritania has an established an idea of beauty that is very dissimilar from much of Western civilization. Whereas Western societies put an emphasis on the skinny or anorexic, the people of Mauritania find beauty in the opposite body type. In truth beauty can be found in both the so-called skinny of fat. And most things are both ugly and beautiful at the same time. Yet since anorexia and obesity are linked to serious health conditions, the thought of forcing a person to be either of these seem inherently wrong. Perhaps gavage is now more of a forbidden taboo. But the past is so often resurrected.

Links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25DxHXz8ZUQ


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