This afternoon I was watching TV with my EWH roommate, Nicholas, our host mom, Khadija (she goes by Mama Tunu), and her 2-and-a-half-year-old grand-niece Kamila. They get a lot of American programs here, and today we were watching a bit of the Tyra Banks show. The topic of the day was body weight. Mama Tunu was disgusted. "These American girls, I don't understand them. They all think they need to be so skinny! Why? In Tanzania, it is a compliment to be called fat. It means you are healthy!" This is the second time I've heard this from a woman since I've been here. Nicholas and I told her that it wouldn't be a very good idea to tell an American woman that she's gained weight. "It's starting to be a problem here now" Mama said "because they see it on the TV. Now they think they have to be thin. Not my daughter, though." Her 13-year-old daughter is away at boarding school. "She's staring to put on weight, and some of her friends say she should try to be skinny. She says 'Not a chance! I want to be a doctor, and how would that look, if I were as skinny as the sick people I am treating? I want them to hear my coming down the hall way, boom boom boom!' Now this one, I don't know what we'll do with her." She points to Kamila, who is sitting on my lap coloring on my class notes. "She is so skinny. If she doesn't put on some weight, who will want to marry her?" She sighs. "We'll have to find her a European husband."
Eat up, ladies.