While nutritionists are sounding the alarm and scaring people with the statistics of obesity, and psychologists blame glossy magazines, actresses and models for promoting thinness, there are countries in the world where being overweight is a synonym for happiness. American researchers have found that residents of Tahiti, South Africa, Jamaica and six other countries are considered beautiful in their homeland only if they have excess weight.
About 25% of the population of this island nation is suffering from obesity. However, these statistics only disappoints doctors and not the Jamaicans. Locals associate thinness with health problems and low income, depression and other misfortunes, and excess weight suggests otherwise. Only a plump woman having curvy hips, buttocks, a wide waist and a large chest, may be attractive to men because she is surely healthy and happy!
The Republic of Fiji is one of those places on earth where super-thin standards of beauty are not running the show. The larger a woman’s waist, the more attractive she is. A wide waist says much – first of all, that its owner does not suffer from hunger and hence has a healthy appetite and appealing curves, and, second, that she is wealthy. It is also a sign of health and fertility. Only such a woman can give her man an heir, a thin one has nothing to offer.
The Kingdom of Tonga
It is here that the greatest number of excessively overweight people lives. Love to large volumes stems from ancient legends. Like the Fijians, the residents of the kingdom believe that thinness is a sign of illness and poverty. However, if the people here used to gain weight with the help of quite useful products, everything has changed for the last decade. While economists are happy about the growth of welfare, doctors blame income growth for the fact that more than 50% of the population suffer from obesity. With the appearance of imported high-caloric foods rich in fat and sugar, people get fat rapidly and do not tend to lose weight because they believe that it is happiness.
In South Africa, thinness is associated with a very specific problem – mass HIV epidemic. Locals equate weight loss to disease characteristics and therefore do not see anything wrong in extra pounds and large volumes. Meanwhile, the staff of the African Population and Health Research Center in Nairobi concluded that a wave of obesity would soon overwhelm the continent. And first of all, it concerns the urban poor. Cheap products and the desire to gain weight not to look sick, has led to the fact that every third participant of the research was diagnosed as overweight.
Cachectic models are not due here; a plump woman has always been a sign of wealth. If a man is successful, his wife simply cannot be skinny. What eastern woman dares to lose weight and spoil the reputation of her husband? However, the problem of obesity in Kuwait is very acute: 74.2% of the population aged 15 and older are already overweight.
The residents of Samoa in the South Pacific are not infected with Western standards of beauty and still appreciate large bodies. Here plumpness is compared with a gift. The plumper you are, the more nature has given you, the richer and your family are, and the more fertile your land will be. However, it is not just a belief. Anthropologists believe that the reasons lie much deeper. Samoans have suffered from food shortages for centuries, and their bodies are just genetically “programmed” to make fat reserves in case of famine.
Here there is still the ancient custom of ha’apori, which means fattening. A woman who is ready to marry must be round and plump, so that she looks like a prospective mother. If a girl is a thin, she will not have a groom. To get an attractive body, women eat high carb foods and drink coconut milk after each meal.
It is another “fat” land. Here, like in Tahiti, large women and men are in honor. Women need fat reserves for motherhood, and men – for power. The larger you are, the more attractive you become to the opposite sex. However, if a few centuries ago fattening customs had less severe consequences, today the World Health Organization recognizes that the population of Nauru is threatened. About 30% of the population suffer from diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and all because of obesity, which they have acquired consuming cheap imported high-calorie foods.
Because of the dry climate and poorly developed agriculture, obesity in Mauritania came to symbolize wealth and prosperity. A plump woman is a true standard of beauty. However, to achieve this ideal is not easy. Not all Mauritanian people are prone to being overweight. To become a woman of dreams, future brides have to make sacrifices – to drink huge amounts of fat camel milk daily and take drugs that stimulate appetite.
In Brazil, women are naturally endowed with magnificent hips, and women do not hide them, but on the contrary, wear swimsuits almost all year round. By the way, women here often decide on plastic surgery: the Brazilians tend to increase breasts (which, due to the natural features are often significantly smaller than the hips) or insert implants in the buttocks to make them more rounded and appealing. Brazil is second only to the United States in the number of such operations a year.