Inverted Beauty Standards: How I Learned to Love Fat

Published May 14, 2015


“You’re so heavy, I’m gonna have to charge you double,” the young Togolese motorcycle taxi driver, sporting red kicks and pants a little too tight to be considered tasteful, told her with a wink. The (rather thin) American Peace Corps volunteer promptly burst into tears. The hapless Romeo looked utterly flummoxed — the ladies usually loved that one.

An American friend of mine, also currently teaching in Togo, told me her school director recently pulled her aside. “Are you ok? Are you unhappy in our town?” he asked, brow furrowed with concern. “I see you gained weight when you traveled. Why can’t you get fat here?”

In many cultures across Africa — especially in rural areas that have retained more traditional beauty standards — telling a woman she’s fat or that she’s gained weight is a compliment. Needless to say, I’m not the only Western (or increasingly, African) woman who isn’t impressed with that particular strategy….Read the rest here.