Beauty, is anything that appeals, and is incorporated in current fads and trends of the area. Its features drastically vary across the globe where antagonizing manners are adopted. Obesity is such an example, where in the west, obesity is shunned, and admonished, and on the contrary, in the African countries, obesity lures and is considered to be a blessing, exhibiting richness. Beauty may be skin deep, but there are cases when such becomes a paradox. Obesity is not just about the weight, or the physical and genetic rationalities we can derive from it.
Obesity can also be derived from its psychological roots. What is obesity and how it affects the reputation, personality, or even the attitude towards it varies across cultures as mentioned earlier. In this paper, obesity is seen as good and wanted physiological trait, compared with as a social cancer plaguing the health in most Western countries. RESEARCH FINDINGS Norimitsu Onish (2001), in his article entitled, ‘On the scale of Beauty, weight weights heavily’, has explained in a formidable manner the craze obesity has amongst teenage girls in Nigeria.
He has depicted the ways ladies will employ to go beyond their means so as to become fat, and conducts market surveys determining which types of steroids, pills or chemicals they would use. The paper explains how obese women are idealized and looked up onto. Onish indicates that women would tend to consume harmful chemical to gain fatty tissues, and have become so obsessed with becoming fat, that they would go to ‘fattening farms’ and get massaged weeks before their weddings.
Likewise, some of the poorer women would consume animal feed in order to get fat and become attractive, as they cannot afford the rich foods. Historically, fleshy African women were considered well endowed financially, because they can afford food, are healthy and fertile. Women in African culture are revered to as the food provider, the one who plants and supplies food in the community. A fleshy African woman connotes someone from an affluent family or perhaps a potential good provider for her family. The heavy African woman was valued and held in high esteem.
However, it is important to note that African women labored diligently, working sun up to sun down, and their laborious tasks were not conducive to being big. The arduous work kept African women basically on the thin side (Johnson and Broadnax, 2003). STRATIFICATION: Stratification is an integral part of a community and society that occurs due to a division in the classes which is determined by the economic situation of the household or community. This horizontal stratum is also prevalent among some countries which have a male dominant society, on the pretext of religion.
This has been depicted in Onish’s article, where obese women are a status symbol, exhibiting their resources, and that they belong to well to do families, compromising their health in this way. A very good example is quoted explaining how a girl since the age of 11 years, was forced to become obese on the pretext of getting a ‘good match’, and now she suffers from hip dislocation, and bone disorders, as it has become difficult to carry herself around. Culturally, being large was not customary. In the African view, women who are fleshy, had hips, and a voluptuous body are the women to marry.
Body size was also perceived to make them excellent mothers. African women who are large have more adipose tissue, and were perceived to carry a fetus to full term and suspend for some time the effects of starvation should there be scarcity of food (Johnson and Broadnax, 2003). In a class lecture by Mead back in 1974, culture was defined as the transmission of values and behaviors and concepts. It is the way one eats, the way one walks, and the way one raises a child. In Africa, the cultural level was subtle for little girls to learn that African men and families values large women and was highly acceptable.
But being voluptuous was deemed in a different way when slaves were transported to the new world. African women then were viewed and even designated to be breeders and has a duty to give birth as many times as her owner wants to. Alex Haley documented this in his book by relating how large African women beats slave children and hands them to a slave owner as a sexual prize (Johnson and Broadnax, 2003). In another article, ‘Culture: A sociological view’, Becker (Becker, 1982) explains the significance of culture in a society and how it is regularly modified in order to meet the modern fashion and fad.
Culture is being regularly changed, and newer versions of principles and practices are adopted. Likewise, stratification in terms of race and gender is also now being diluted, as a sense of equality is prevalent within most of the societies across the globe. A society is organized by its cultural values, which is the essence to its development, and thus although newer concepts are adopted, older principles should not be ignored and should be passed onto generations in order to preserve a society’s cultural heritage. The gradual changes in society together with the culture in which one grows takes generations.
There are a few and core cultural traits which are passed on from one generation to another, preserved in families, despite the many changes that are constantly happening. In the sociological context, this also reflects how society influences the individual’s views and perceptions with the many changes happening around him/her. At some point, the person knows what his culture is inherently, but also adjusts to fit in and cope up with the many cultural changes in our societies. CROSS CULTURAL STUDIES: Cross cultural studies was a very interesting subject that depicts the various anthropologies around the globe.
The primary essence in this study is an element of tolerance which various ethnic groups have to incur so as to accommodate and intermingle with various cultural set ups. A united stand in which people from entirely different cultures will team up and constructive serve towards the progress and development of a society is prevalent in most countries. A good example is depicted by the people of Malaysia, in which various ethnic groups coexist and play their respective roles in order to make Malaysia one of the most rapidly developed nation in the past decade, and it is now a role model for others to follow.
Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism coexist and temples are built right next to mosques and churches, where people go shoulder to shoulder to preach in tolerance and harmony. The same can be derived when slaves where transported to the New World. As African women became sexual prizes to their owners, some Westerner has fathered a child, and bore an African-American child. In the existing culture, being thin is in. Bulimia and anorexia has become an epidemic amongst teens and younger women because of the images of thin women being cultivated in the new society.
The cross cultural examination between how women in Africa in comparison with African-American women view obesity is different and is a reflection of how views and perception change over time and across cultures. CONCLUSION: Culture differ across the globe, meeting the geographical requirements of a region, these can vary and be contrary, like the case of obesity, which is endeavored by some, and admonished by other societies, like the westerners. Likewise, cultural set ups are modified and changed in order to meet modern day requirements, and simultaneously maintaining and preserving the ancient cultural values that have been passed on.
Similarly, cross cultural set ups also do exist, and various ethnic groups coexist and serve proactively for the development and progress of nations, thus exhibiting discipline, unity and tolerance. REFERENCES: Becker H. (1982) Culture: A Sociological View, Yale Review, September 2, , 71:513-527 Johnson, R. W. and Broadnax, P. A (2003). A perspective on obesity – analysis of trend of obesity in African-American women. ABNF Journal. Onish N. (2001) Maradi Journal: On the Scale of Beauty, Weight Weighs Heavily New York Times dated Feb 12
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