Girls Are Fattened On Farms In Mauritania

By Lisa J. on Friday, August 16, 2013
girl
“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” —Kate Moss

In A Nutshell

Girls as young as five years old are sent to fattening farms in Mauritania where they are forced to consume thousands of calories each day. This tradition is known as leblouh, a grooming program for girls so they can find better husbands in the future.

The Whole Bushel

In a world where size-zero models are being worshiped and the global weight-loss industry will be worth a projected $586 billion in 2014, it might be shocking to know that in a small country located in Africa, super obesity is considered super sexy.

Mauritania is home to around 3.2 million people, and one-third of that population belongs to the ancient Moor, the tribe that practices leblouh. What exactly is leblouh? Well, imagine a foie gras farm but instead of the farmers force-feeding geese or ducks, you have an elderly woman force-feeding girls as young as five years old. Leblouh is not only practiced in Mauritania, but other West African countries as well.

On a normal day at a fattening camp, the girls eat two kilos of pounded millet, two cups of butter, and five gallons of camel milk. If the girls refuse to eat, they are beaten. If they can’t keep the food down, they are fed their own vomit.

So why are families still sending their daughters to fattening farms? As the head of the Association of Women Heads of Households, Mint Ely, puts it, “In Mauritania, a woman’s size indicates the amount of space she occupies in her husband’s heart.” As in many lesser-developed countries, a wife is her husband’s property and as such, she is a symbol of her husband’s wealth. The fatter the wife, the richer the husband.

But this sort of thinking is slowly dying with the help of government campaigns, education, and some Western influence. Although there are some families who still insist on the old beauty ideal, some have turned to modern steroids to fatten up their daughters.

Show Me The Proof

Girls being force-fed for marriage as fattening farms revived
Mauritania’s ‘wife-fattening’ farm
In Mauritania, Seeking to End an Overfed Ideal

  • celeѕтнra

    In countries where food is abundant and excess, slim figures are deemed as a desirable trait. In countries like this, the fatter the better. I guess they’re more worried about their daughter’s “future” than their health.

    • Adeel

      I guess the fat women in the west should move there. They’d be considered celestial beauty.

      • Sativa Savant

        That would be a good idea, except Mauritania only recently officially outlawed slavery and it’s still practiced there in many areas…..so it would turn out very bad for those women.

    • Liege_Lord

      I noticed this too. It seems psychologically motivated based one’s discipline and/or resources. I.E In the USA where food is abundant, it takes discpline to regulate your weight, and the translation of weight to discipline is what many find attractive subconciously. In Third World countries, food is scare, so being heavy is a sign of resources, power, or authority. I believe the variables of discipline and wealth are what makes this polarity seem to have a noticable correalation.

  • rhijulbec

    Wicked what we women do to each other.. This example is one, female genital mutilation is another…all perpetrated by women against very young girls. I fervently wish there is someday when heinous acts against children are no more.

    • brooklynarcher

      I somewhat agree with your statement, however, you failed to mention that what women do to each other is a result of patriarchy. It’s unfortunate that women perpetuate it but in a lot of these traditional societies, their livlihood is dependent on whether or not they meet these standards. I always think of patriarchy like this: the men build the jails but the women are the guards.

      • rhijulbec

        Absolutely! I agree wholeheartedly.

      • Stefan

        What leads you to conclude that this is a result of patriarchy ?

    • Fresco Martinez

      I completely agree with you. But at least as more ppl become educated there this will finally stop.

  • dubya

    “a woman’s size indicates the amount of space she occupies in her husband’s heart.” 
    Lol is that why everybody loves Oprah? She’s got enough to take space in everybody’s heart

  • Brp Goyo

    It’s a very sad case of cultural stagnation. Culture is supposed to be moving forward with the times.

  • Liege_Lord

    well.. this is going to sound wrong, but please try to follow my train of thought. While this practice FEELS to be innately wrong, people who have taken a cultral anthropology class will understand this cultural “colonialism” is unethical, it is wrong to tell a different culture how their moral code should operate.
    People in Papa New Guinea use to ritualistically kidnap members from another tribe in their sleep and then murder them as a coming of age ritual of adulthood. While this seems completely wrong to me, to them this is a part of their life and culture, who am I to tell them how to live and what is right and wrong?
    I hope people can objectively understand what I am saying. I disagree strongly with this force feeding practice and all abuse, but at what point are we crossing the line by imposing our believes on others?

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/VictimOfBoredom Matt

      Imposing isn’t inherently wrong. My teachers “imposed” education on me. If they hadn’t, I would have undoubtedly become a different person with different beliefs. Is it unethical that they colonized my mind by exposing me to external influences? Consider us the teacher and Papua New Guinea and Mauritania the students. Beating girls and murdering kidnap victims are “culture”, but “culture” doesn’t inherently need to be preserved. “Slavery” used to be part of our culture; would it have been wrong if some external civilization pressured us into relinquishing that aspect of our culture?

      • Liege_Lord

        Your logic is flawed. Your teachers did not “impose” education on you in any sense of the word. Your family sent you to school when homeschooling is a legal option, and the government makes decisions regarding educational regulation.. your government which is a part of your culture.. Second, “colonized your mind” is hysterical and makes me think you’re 12 years old, because colonized means to send settlers and establish political control, whereas politics tend not to be the focus of a teacher unless your a polly sci major.

        Now to get to the core, “Consider us the teacher and Papua New Guinea and Mauritania the students”. Such an arrogant statement, Why? Why are we not the students and Papua New Guinea and Mauritania the teacher? Were you ordained by a higher being or something, I didn’t know you were given carte blanche from God to set the rules for everyone’s society. Also, slavery is still a part of many cultures (I do not support it in any way whatsoever, but it is true), human trafficking exists in the U.S with an estimated 17,500 people being sent into slavery per year; so ya, there are slaves still in the U.S.A.

        Was it wrong when the U.S.A acted as an “external civilization” pressuring the Native Americas to conform to their religion and way of life? That worked out really well for them didn’t it? Based on your arguement, you are supporting the Trail of Tears and genocide in general.

        I think that you are naive and what you are TRYING to argue for is what is known as Basic Human Rights. I believe in this, but what I am stating is that it is a more complex issue that you give it credit. It is not black and white (no pun intended), there are countless variables to consider, one of these variables which is important to cultural anthropology is “Does one culture have an ethical right to control and force influence another culture?”, in general many educated people say no. A final example of mutual exclusion is States have independent rights from other states, you dont see Tennessee telling Arkansas what their laws should be, because they are independent.

        To your question “would it have been wrong if some external civilization pressured us into relinquishing that aspect of our culture?” I answer: Yes, it absolutely is wrong to pressure a civilization into reliquishing their culture, because no one gives you the right to do so anymore than they have the right to make you reliquish yours. You clearly see your culture as “superior” and the second you do that you are on a slippery slope.

        • http://www.youtube.com/user/VictimOfBoredom Matt

          Your logic is flawed. The system (the collaboration of my parents, teachers, and government) DID “impose” education on me in every sense of the word. My family sent me to school when I clearly did not want to go, and the government made decisions regarding educational regulation. My government is an external force. Second, “colonialism” is hysterical and makes me think you’re 12 years old, because colonization means to send settlers and establish political control, whereas politics tends not to be the focus of condemning girl-fattening/beating and kidnap-murdering.

          Now to get to the core, your rationalization of my compulsory education. Such an arrogant position. Why? Why were my teachers not the students and me the teacher? Were they ordained by a higher being or something, I didn’t know they were given carte blanche from God to set the rules for everyone’s knowledge. Also, your comment about slavery is absolutely pointless because you’re DEFENDING slavery by saying we can’t condemn it.

          Was it wrong when the U.S.A acted as an “external civilization” pressuring the Nazis to conform to their national ambitions and way of life? That worked out really well for them didn’t it? Based on your argument, you are supporting the Holocaust and genocide in general.

          I think that you are naive and what you are TRYING to argue for is what is known as Cultural Relativism. I believe in this, but what I am stating is that it is a more complex issue than you give it credit. It is not black and white (no pun intended), there are countless variables to consider; one of these variables which is important to human ethics is “Does one person have an ethical right to beat or kill another innocent person?”; in general many educated people say no. A final example of universal human rights is the Geneva Convention––you don’t see the UN supporting the Syrian genocide because Syria is “independent”.

          To your answer that condemning slavery in the USA would have been absolutely wrong, you clearly see the white race as “superior” to the black race, and there is no need to go on a slippery slope to extrapolate that you’re a racist apologist of slavery.

          • Liege_Lord

            too bad you can’t have a legitimate discussion. You didn’t answer my statements but merely diverted the question. I was talking about Native American relocation and re-education, you come back with Nazi’s, if you cant response to the question before moving on then there is nothing to discuss.

            Your arguement about education is ridiculous, you could not be the teacher because you are a child, I am discussing societies, you are giving case examples about individuals, you are off topic.

            My referencing to human trafficking wasn’t incorrect, I am pointing out slavery exists, you stated it “used” to be a part of our culture, I am saying it STILL exists, although I am vehemently against human trafficking. Before you can pull out more B.S too, slavery is not a culture.. so don’t be silly and say I support slavery because I support cultural rights, it can be condemned and absolutely should, but you sound like America has the right to impose soverign rule over other countries, it doesnt; we have to go to war to make changes of that nature.

            Moving on, when you just called me a racist… you don’t even know my race. I could be black for all you know, so clearly your just trying to troll me. I am however, jewish; so your Holocaust reference is insulting. Genocide is not a part of German culture for crying out loud, it was not a previous practice and when it was instigated I absolutely think America should have gotten involved even earlier. Your assumptions are outrageous and should cease, I am not putting words in your mouth so do not try that on me.

            I don’t even understand your Geneva Convention statement. What are you trying to say? You don’t see the UN supporting Syrian genocide because that would be ridiculous, and it literally has nothing to do with if a culture has a right to change and control another’s culture.

            Stop confusing cultural and societial issues with case studies and specific historical instances. Simply put, you believe a culture has the right to force another culture to reliquish its beliefs. I believe in Human Rights, and I’ll concede as much to say as perhaps they should be imposed on verry specific instances such as the force feeding case, slavery, abuse, etc., but lets get back to the U.S and Native Americans which you COMEPLETELY glossed over. Were Native Americans breaking human rights when Amercia pulverized their culture and quite literally slaughtered them? In this case it was American who was the violators of human rights, but because they were more powerful they were able to “impose” their culture, which you think is ok, so, in fact, YOU are the one willing to sacrifce human rights and support that it is ethical to impose a cultural will on the grounds it is stronger.

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/VictimOfBoredom Matt

            You are so mindbogglingly misguided and deluded, but I appreciate your sincere attempt at earnest discussion, so I’ll play ball:

            1. Your “point” about the Native Americans was utterly ridiculous because this is about CONDEMNING human rights abuses whereas the Native American suppression obviously WAS a human rights abuse––just like the force-feeding/beating and kidnap-murdering. We relocated and reeducated Native Americans for POLITICAL reasons––not ETHICAL reasons. What you’re saying is that you’d have OPPOSED some enlightened foreigners coming over here and telling us we shouldn’t relocate and reeducate our oppressed minority, just as Americans shouldn’t tell Mauritanians not to oppress girls.

            2. The Holocaust as an isolated incident was not cultural, but ingrained malice and violence against Jews certainly was. Persecution of Jews was a time-honored European tradition dating back centuries––who were the Americans to fight against this time-honored cultural practice? Pogroms were an endemic part of Russian and Romanian society, just as force-feeding and kidnap-murdering are/were endemic parts of Mauritanian and Papuan society.

            3. You say I could not be the teacher because I was a child––in other words, because I lacked the intellectual development that my teacher had gone through. Well, so, too, is it possible for a culture to lack certain aspects of intellectual development that another culture has already gone through. My example regarding individuals serves as a relevant analogy; it is not “off-topic”.

            4. My reference to slavery having existed in the USA wasn’t some sort of bizarre “oh-look-how-much-better-we-are-now” cultural chauvinism. I was just stated a FACT––it DID exist, and it WAS part of our culture, whereas NOW it’s NOT. The fact that it still exists doesn’t have anything-the-f**k to do with my main point, which is that regardless of WHEN it existed or exists in the USA, the point is that it’s ALWAYS appropriate to condemn it. And slavery can ABSOLUTELY be part of culture––it has been part of culture in MANY societies throughout history, including being documented in literature. Do you not consider literature to be culture?

            5. Do you think the UN should be condemning the Syrian genocide? Well then you sound like the UN has the right to impose sovereign rule over other countries. It doesn’t; we have to go to war to make changes of that nature.

            6. Simply put, you believe a human has the right to force another human to relinquish his or her rights.

            7. “In this case it was American who was the violators of human rights, but because they were more powerful they were able to “impose” their culture, which you think is ok, so, in fact, YOU are the one willing to sacrifce human rights and support that it is ethical to impose a cultural will on the grounds it is stronger.” » No, YOU are the one willing to sacrifice human rights because you think it would have been WRONG for a foreign power to come in and STOP Americans from violating the Native Americans’ human rights. You don’t seem to understand that this has nothing the f*ck to do with “power” and everything to do with RESPECTING HUMAN RIGHTS!

            8. “I believe in Human Rights, and I’ll concede as much to say as perhaps they should be imposed on verry specific instances such as the force feeding case” » WELL THEN WHAT THE HELL ARE WE EVEN ARGUING ABOUT????

            In short, your arguments are outrageous and should cease.

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/VictimOfBoredom Matt

            Where’s your response? Did you really think lying would work when I could just pull up this webpage myself and call you out on it?

      • Commenter

        Your teachers didn’t educate you they indoctrinated you just like a robot.
        Sorry to tell you the truth .

        • http://www.youtube.com/user/VictimOfBoredom Matt

          Nice attempt at a witty remark, but that has nothing-the-fuck to do with anything anyone was talking about. Go try your witty comebacks somewhere else.

          Your teachers clearly didn’t educate you. Sorry to tell you the truth.

          • Commenter

            Exactly my point
            I just said a sentence which involves rational thinking and you just got angry at me claiming it was a comeback when it was the first time I said anything do if you think you’re so advanced in terms of education and principle look at yourself and how you’ve been indoctrinated before you be critical of others customs

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/VictimOfBoredom Matt

            Nothing I’ve said has anything to do with anything my teachers have taught––sorry, “indoctrinated”––me. You’re just a snobbish cunt looking for a way to parade your own intellectual enlightenment by ambiguously labeling others “indoctrinated”, whilst absolving yourself of the minimal responsibility of even explaining by what basis you label them as such.

            If you’re too lazy and intellectually cowardly to even back up your inane ad hominem attacks with the slightest bit of explanation, then consider being too lazy to waste my f**king time with your meek one-liners and “you just dont understand” retorts.

          • Commenter

            I wasn’t trying to insult you and I apologize if I did.
            What you’re saying is totally legit but what ism. saying is that you’ve got the idea that it’s right for a teacher to indoctrinate the exact same way that the people in Mauritania think it’s right to overfeed a person like they’re an animal.
            believe me , I have nothing against you

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/VictimOfBoredom Matt

            Thank you for clarifying your point. I do not think teaching a child how to read, write, do math, and use science amounts to “indoctrinating”, and I certainly don’t think it amounts to violent force-feeding. I undoubtedly am better off being linguistically, mathematically, and scientifically literate. History is a more subjective and contentious point, but historical education tends to be so poor anyway––to the extent that most people eventually forget some 95% of what they learned––that it’s a moot point.

            I had every right to go to school and just put in minimal effort to get so-so C grades. Beating was out of the question. The only remnants of my “indoctrination” are practical accumulations of knowledge. To say that practical compulsory education is equivalent to violent force-feeding is absurd.

    • Frodo28

      “Force fed their own vomit” So you think that’s cool? Dumba**

    • Stefan

      So basically you insist on respecting the culture of those who have no respect for the health, well being or freedom of others, By your logic, if murdering someone feels right to me, then who can tell me what’s right and whats wrong? I mean it’s my belief, for instance, I truly believe people like you should be killed, I’m not even kidding, I think hypocrites who shout about not imposing our views on others, when infact all we’re doing is trying to get THEM to stop imposing their views on theirs, should be killed. You think the girls want this? You think they want to eat their own puke? It’s interesting how you ignore the rights of the victim and focus on the rights of the oppressor. I bet the Nazi’s felt they were right too, as do people who blow up school buses, who are we to tell them whats right eh?

      • Liege_Lord

        Take a class on Cultural Anthropology, or study the Prime Directive from Star Trek, I don’t need to explain objective reasoning to you ‘morons’, bottom line: I am completely pro Human Rights but statements like “One culture should have the right to impose their culture will on another” is a foolhardy statement. Again, refer to the American Indian War, it is a prime example of imposing will on a non abusive culture. We are speaking macroperspective. If you want me to beat a dead horse, I’ll say again, I am against this force feeding abuse entirely, but Matt made a generalize statement which I disagree with.

        I guess because you are so dumb I will repeat it again:

        I am not in support of the Mauritania practices.

        Again:

        I am not in support of the Mauritania practices.

        So moving foward, losen your ridiculous simiplistic view, we are speaking on a universal level about Cultural rights, the Aborigenese, Native Americans, etc. are groups that have lost their culture when their culture did not harm people. You guys support this, and that is wrong.

        • Stefan

          ” Native Americans, etc. are groups that have lost their culture when their culture did not harm people. You guys support this, and that is wrong.”
          really? what part of my post indicated that? are you schizophrenic?

          Matt- Your “point” about the Native Americans was utterly ridiculous because this is about CONDEMNING human rights abuses whereas the Native American suppression obviously WAS a human rights abuse

          Me:You’re ignoring the rights of the victim to focus on the supposed rights of the oppressors to maintain their cultural practices.

          You need to stop lying about what people have said., Nobody here claimed imposition of a way of life on a nonharmful culture is a good thing, My post was entirely focused on the hypocrisy of talking about the rights of the opressors while ignoring the rights of the victim. I also gave several examples where violent, or abuse practices are culturally ingrained but condemned universally none the same, for instance, widow burning.

          .It’s kind of pathetic when someone says well What happened to the Indians was wrong, and you reply with “HURR U think what happened was justified” Reality check dumbass, stop attributing bullshit that was never said to other people and then attacking that bullshit, it makes you look stupid and just shows you can’t address the original point.

          Furthermore you say this

          “I am not in support of the Mauritania practices.”
          but just before you’ve said this.
          “While this practice FEELS to be innately wrong, people who have taken a cultral anthropology class will understand this cultural “colonialism” is unethical, it is wrong to tell a different culture how their moral code should operate.”

          Are you too stupid to understand the stupidity of claiming to oppose something and defending it at the same time? Did you pause to consider how delusional you seem when you claim to be opposed to these practices while simultaneously denouncing any attempt to abolish this is cultural colonialism is

          Furthermore your retarded rantings would have had SOME slight value IF the girls agreed to this, THEN your point might have been applicable,

          As it stands the only one’s forcing others to do something against their will here are THESE people,

          You’re pretty fucking retarded if you use cultural relativism to claim people trying to stop other people from abusing someone is unethical.

          Let me educate you a little more moron since you’re fond of screaming hurr durr et ez relative.

          A lot of African tribes have quite painful initiation rituals, some of them are often fatal, but as everyone involved in these practices is a willing participant, Arguments of cultural relativism would stand.However, if this practice was forced upon unwilling participants then it’s not an issue of cultural relativism, get it?

          You obviously haven’t gone beyond skimming wikipedia if you can’t tell the difference. Oh and please, this time before replying try replying to what was actually said, instead of making shit up

          Also, since you’re so form of taking classes, I suggest you read through this to realize why exactly you’re a moron.

          http://hmb.utoronto.ca/Old%20Site/HMB303H/weekly_supp/week-02/Donnelly_cultural_relativisim.pdf

          http://www.un.org/rights/dpi1627e.htm

          • Liege_Lord

            Wow you are truly a naive troll. I am astonished that the Listverse Moderators let this conversation go on at this length, saturating this comment section which could of have decent dialogue. Did you know that the point of a debate and discussion is to exchange ideas and possibly one’s perspective on an issue? You act like this is a “win” or “lose” thing, and you break down to insults and vulgarities. All I have to say to your seventh paragraph is I had conceded to Matt that in this article’s specific case I agree intervention is entirely justified; I agreed, but stated each situation should be evaluated independently as all things should. I honestly couldn’t read past your seventh paragraph because your points break down to drivel.
            I think this has gone on long enough and request a Moderator remove your above statements (and mine if they deem necessary), this in an unfruitful conversation which is detracting from serious disccusions which could be going on in this comment section, yet you’ve written at length about nonesense. I apologize to anyone who has had to read through this unproductive conversation and this is the final response I am making on this issue.
            Good day sir.

          • Stefan

            It’s cute how you scream naive and troll when they don’t have factual statements backing them up. Oh noes, you pointed out that I misattributed false statements to people who didn’t make them. How trollish of you o point out that you never said what I claimed you said. pathetic, I still don’t see you providing any evidence that I said or implied that I believe what happened to the Native Americans were justified, yet you quite clearly claim I do. ergo, that makes you a dishonest moron, not an insult, a conclusion based on lack of reading comprehension,logic, and honest.

            Oh and yes, I pointed out how you contradicted yourself,

            “I am not in support of the Mauritania practices.”
            but just before you’ve said this.
            “While THIS practice FEELS to be innately wrong, people who have taken a cultral anthropology class will understand this cultural “colonialism” is unethical, it is wrong to tell a different culture how their moral code should operate.”

            How bad of me to expose your self contradictory nonsense

            Maybe you dont know what the word this MEANS, but if you claim THIS practice may feel wrong, but criticizing it is immoral, you’re defending it. are you really this stupid?

            See retard, accusations of troll are easy to throw around, but looking at the facts always shows who the real troll is.
            You LIED about what people said,and I still don’t see you pointing out how what I said indicates support for what happened to the Native Americans.
            you CONTRADICT yourself, and frankly lie about what you’ve said.

  • moistmulattoman

    look at our culture lol supermodels are bone skinny and thats what is forced down the throats of all of the women n our culture.

  • James Lando Deltoro

    Okay im thoroughly sickened now…