Plus Size: Where Fat Is Fine

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In Western countries the general view is that all women want to be thin and everyone who is overweight is interested in dieting and taking up the latest popular weight reducing system. Fortunes are spent on special foods and exercise regimes in an attempt to lose a few kilograms and conform to the dimensions of the latest top model. Much effort goes into designing clothes to flatter the form that does not yet fit that slender silhouette. However, over large parts of the world, fat is viewed in a In Western countries the general view is that all women want to be thin and everyone much more positive light. In parts of Asia and most of Africa, fat is welcomed as a sign of growing affluence.

Obesity is said to be a major health concern in the USA and other western countries. In these wealthy communities much money is spent on relatively cheap food and the amount consumed far exceeds the human being's basic requirements. At the same time, in the poorer countries of the world, many people find it hard to get enough food to eat and thinness is the norm. Anyone who manages to gather more wealth begins to put on weight. They are told by their friends that they are looking fine, which is a euphemism for saying they are looking wealthy. Rich men and women proudly display their wealth by their bulging stomachs and waddling gait.

In steadily prospering African countries such as Ghana, very little extra nourishment seems to be needed to provoke a rapid expansion of female dimensions. Rising living standards have made a rotund form the standard to which all seem to aspire. This is most clearly seen at the gatherings at Saturday funerals, where bevies of voluptuous beauties display in all their finery as they dance with minimal effort to the latest highlife tunes. With no talk of slimming diets and no evidence of curve-concealing attire, the maids and matrons in mourning express their joy of living by proudly bumping all and sundry with their well-padded buttocks, in a special dance that could well be dedicated to the glory of plus size.

In the post-colonial era the advanced countries have continued to assist less developed countries to modernise their economies and create more affluent lives for their people. One consequence of growing affluence is an expanding waistline. It would seem that the recently poor have adopted a better psychological approach to this phenomenon than those who have long been rich. One must hope that growing familiarity does not breed the proverbial contempt for fat is fine, and that something of this happy acceptance can filter back to where it has long been forgotten.