Force Feeding Queens April 9, 2012Posted by Beachcombing in : Modern , trackback
One of Beach’s most able students this term did a paper on ‘cultural variance in female beauty’: the fact that what makes a woman attractive varies from society to society. This is rarely truer than with weight. After all, here should we trust the modern American model of the waspish, almost boyish woman or the Mediterranean model of, say, a curvy Calabrian with rotating hips? Beach has not the slightest idea. But he confesses to being intrigued by the extraordinary model offered in nineteenth-century Uganda and described here by a European traveller.
In the afternoon, as I had heard from Musa that the wives of the king and princes were fattened to such an extent that they could not stand upright, I paid my respects to Waze’ze’ru, the king’s eldest brother… with the hope of being able to see for myself the truth of the story. There was no mistake about it. On entering the hut, I found the old man and his chief wife sitting side by side on a bench of earth strewed over with grass, and partitioned like stalls for sleeping apartments, while in front of them were placed numerous wooden pots of milk… I was struck with no small surprise at the way he received me, as well as with the extraordinary dimensions, yet pleasing beauty, of the immoderately fat fair one his wife. She could not rise; and so large were her arms that between the joints the flesh hung down like large, loose-stuffed puddings. Then in came their children, all models of the Abyssinian type of beauty, and as polite in their manners as thorough-bred gentlemen. They had heard of my picture-books from the king, and all wished to see them; which they no sooner did, to their infinite delight, especially when they recognized any of the animals, than the subject was turned by my inquiring what they did with so many milk-pots. This was easily explained by Waze’ze’ru himself, who, pointing to his wife, said, ‘This is all the product of those pots: from early youth upward we keep those pots to their mouths, as it is the fashion at court to have very fat wives.’
Essentially then aristocratic women are force-fed so they attain simply extraordinary dimensions. This next passage comes from the same writer. Here he risked a great deal by going to measure one of these obese beauties and offering his own flesh in payment in a bizarre adult cross-cultural version of you-show-me-and-I’ll-show-you.
After a long and amusing conversation with [the king] in the morning, I called on one of his sisters-in-law, married to an elder brother who was born before Dagara ascended the throne. She was another of those wonders of obesity, unable to stand excepting on all fours. I was desirous to obtain a good view of her, and actually to measure her, and induced her to give me facilities for doing so by offering in return to show her a bit of my naked legs and arms. The bait took as I wished it, and after getting her to sidle and wriggle into the middle of the hut, I did as I promised, and then took her dimensions, as noted below. All of these are exact except the height, and I believe I could have obtained this more accurately if I could have had her laid on the floor. Not knowing what difficulties I should have to contend with in such a piece of engineering, I tried to get her height by raising her up. This, after infinite exertions on the part of us both, was accomplished, when she sank down again, fainting, for her blood had rushed into her head. Meanwhile, the daughter, a lass of sixteen, sat stark-naked before us, sucking at a milk-pot, on which the father kept her at work by holding a rod in his hand; for, as fattening is the first duty of fashionable female life, it must be duly enforced by the rod if necessary. I got up a bit of flirtation with missy, and induced her to rise and shake hands with me. Her features were lively, but her body was as round as a ball.
‘I got up a bit of a flirtation with missy’! For the record the measurements of her mother were as follows: Round the arm, 1 foot 11 inches; chest, 4 feet 4 inches; thigh, 2 feet 7 inches; calf, 1 foot 8 inches; height, 5 feet 8 inches.
Beach wonders how much she weighed? Any other extreme versions of feminine beauty? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com
30/4/2012: KHM writes in ‘The preference for the fat female seems to go back far into prehistory as the article below from Wikipedia on venus figurines indicates. Since thin females are less likely to conceive than fatter ones, the preference may be rooted in reproductive advantage, perhaps as in the cultural concept of the “earth mother.”The further back we go, the more important the earth mother, matriarchy and polyandry is relative to the male sky or heaven gods controlling the weather. It is quite possible that before the Biblical Fall both culture and religion revolved around the female rather than the male. (Adam was defined as includingboth male and female genders.) These extremely old traditions die very slowly – I think the Ottoman Turks were one of the last cultures to favor artificially fat females, but not to the same degree as the Ugandans, of course. Now that the biosphere is suffering from extinction of many species, especially those in the wild, the earth as a mother will be unappreciated andunrecognized. Free food derived from hunting, fishing and gathering in the wild will be replaced by human effort and intervention at all stages of the food production process. Expect females to lose much of their distinctive physical appearance as they dress and act more like males in the long-term future.’ Thanks KHM!!