Prior to Valentine’s Day, I went shopping for Shirley at Vlisco, a new store located at the Accra Mall. Vlisco sells high-end fabric that tailors can assemble into wonderful dresses.
I was talking to the salesladies about Shirley’s size and it got us talking about standards of beauty.
Shirley is from Taiwan. Everyone from that part of the world appreciates a woman who is slim — much like in the US — who goes to great lengths to fit into the clothes that she could wear when she was 16 years old. Oddly enough, because Shirley has been living in the US for a time, I’m sure she would be considered “fat” by Asian standards. This is completely ridiculous.
In Ghana, standards of beauty are based on a universal desire: hunger. Considering how most people live on subsistence wages, e.g. $1-$3 per day, being thin is undesirable. It means you don’t make enough to eat properly. In fact, Ghanaian husbands are expected to have curvy wives. I define curvy as sizes 14 and up. Having a wife of this size suggests that you have enough money to feed her and that you are treating her “right”.
(Of course, many husbands will have curvy wives and also have thin, young mistresses.)
In a hunger-centered world, beauty lies in having a woman who is shapely. Our office lady said that an attractive size for a young lady in her mid-twenties would range from size 6 to 10; however, women in the size 14, 16 range are not necessarily regarded as unattractive.
In a way, having such a wide definition of “beautiful” must be very good for women. It would seem to allow women not to have to constantly measure themselves up against an almost impossible standard. Instead, they could focus their energies on other endeavors.
Sample of GQ’s Sexiest Women of 2013