I want to write a quick post about body-image because I find the way people view themselves in Canada to be strikingly different than the way people view themselves in rural Uganda. (Of course I’m speaking in general terms).
In Canada, the portrayal of women in the media leads one to believe that there is an ideal body that all women should strive for. And everywhere you look – billboards, magazines, internet articles, movies, TV shows, and commercials – this message is pounded into your head.
In rural Uganda, the story about a woman’s ideal body is different. A beautiful woman in rural Uganda is a fat woman! Women here are praised for being full bodied.
But even though there is an ideal body that women strive for here (it’s just much different than the one in Canada), I’m not constantly surrounded by advertisements of women with this ideal body. There are no billboards in the village. Nor can you buy a magazine, watch cable television, or get a decent internet connection. (There is, however, one tiny movie theatre run on a generator)! Therefore, I’m not bombarded with images that are either blatantly or inadvertently telling me what I should look like.
I find this so refreshing because it means that people are perceived according to who they are, rather than what they look like. And you have so much extra energy when it’s not taken up by continuously comparing your body to those around you!
Now, I’ve been careful to say rural Uganda thus far because the conditions in Kampala (Uganda’s capital) are much more similar to Canada. The ideal body for a woman in the capital is a thin one, not a fat one; and there are a lot more advertisements to tell you this. However, not all is lost – my favourite billboard ad in Kampala shows a woman taking a large bite out of a fried chicken drumstick and the text above her head reads: “For the love of chicks with big thighs”!