Years ago, I remember reading a story about this horrific phenomenon happening in certain remote corners of the world, where young women were purposefully “fattened up” in huts to make them more appealing for their husbands.
According to a new story not only is this still happening, but the torturous practice is experiencing a resurgence in Mauritania (a country in northwest Africa) with girls as young as FIVE being forced to swallow enormous quantities of food and liquid, and even their vomit if that food comes up. The reasoning behind this tradition, called leblouh? "In Mauritania, a woman's size indicates the amount of space she occupies in her husband's heart," explains women's rights campaigner Aminetou Mint Ely, head of the Association of Women Heads of Households, in The Guardian.
Remember, some of these girls are five, and they are being forcefed so their HUSBANDS will “love” them more.
This story makes me sick to my stomach. And it is happening right now, as I write, as you read, as we worry about stupid crap like how many calories we ate at dinner or what to wear on a date or whether we had a bad dream last night.
Warning: The following info is extremely disturbing.
During leblouh, rural girls are brought to special "fattening farms" where older women – sometimes the girls’ own aunts or grandmothers, feed them a typical daily diet consisting of “two kilos of pounded millet, mixed with two cups of butter, as well as 20 litres of camel's milk.”
According to the story, sticks are used on the girl's thighs to break down tissue and hasten the weight-gaining process. Another form of torture, called zayar, involves two sticks being inserted into each side of a girl’s toe. “When a child refuses to drink or eat, the matron squeezes the sticks together, causing great pain.” The result of a “successful fattening process”: A 12-year-old who weigh about 175 pounds. And is thus ready for marriage.
A sad but interesting facet of this whole horrible situation: We (Americans) live in a society where women freak out about losing weight before their wedding. Instead of forced leblouh, we have glorified brideorexia. In fact, a 2008 study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee looking at brides-to-be showed that 70% wanted to lose more than 20 pounds in the six months prior to their wedding day; another 20% remained vigilant in monitoring the scale to ensure they did not gain even an extra ounce. Many women reported starving themselves, abusing weight loss pills and laxatives and even vomiting to drop pounds.
I don’t even know which is sadder. Mothers everywhere, please go give your little girls a kiss and let them know you love them, no matter what their size…