IT was one bright quotidian afternoon. I was at the heart of the town with five friends, rounding up a few errands. When our bellies wanted to refuel, we hopped into a nearby restaurant.
After a delicious lunch, still tired from the hot spell, we decided to hang around after ordering coffee. Thanks to the restaurant’s excellent coffee, we ended up hibernating for two more hours, chattering — mostly prattling — the afternoon away.
Passers-by outside the restaurant would occasionally provide a topic for conversation. But none carried the conversation like her; full-bosomed, wide-hipped, with more than a generous derriere — resembling Beyonce’s, blessed legs and a walk to kill.
Boys being boys, eyes trailed after her. But all of a sudden, my friends turned to me, peering with smiles, as if suggesting something. Funnily I had to ask why they were gobbling me with their unashamed eyes.
“You Africans like big women kah?”
Narrating the aftermath of the chronicle I dare not. But my mind couldn’t help the birthing of today’s article from that day’s inspiration. My hands are anxious to communicate an idea that I find arousing, intellectually, open to discussion and evaluation in a confabulated forum.
I’ve bumped into this question, time after time, occasionally escaping it but mostly being caught with the expectations for an answer.
One challenge with social science analysis of an element like this arises from the inability to generalise the issue. The general population deviates notoriously, presenting different recounts of taste and preference, creating a whirlpool.
I will resort to fuller and smaller women as the parameters, with no intention of offending anyone. The idea of attraction towards fuller or smaller women changes the landscape and definition of beauty. Let us then meander in the name of beauty, exploring it, perusing its chapters and soaking ourselves in its knowledge.
But before I jump in I would like to reiterate and say I intend to not degrade any gender by my witty and sometimes direct explanations.
It goes without saying, certain men like smaller women whilst others like the otherwise. But there are many elements at play, more than meets the eye. Sometimes this defines racial lines, like when one generalises on Africans and fuller women, and Asians and smaller women.
When I asked my friends for the reason for such a conclusion, they told me about the number of Africans they know who have big girlfriends. According to them, it’s a rare opportunity meeting an African with a smaller partner. One said he explicitly heard an African declaring his infatuation for fuller women.
Speaking the truth, Africans like more ‘sculptured’ women. The idea of small waist, big hips and derriere and a nice bosom is an African man’s dream. But having said that, there are those who are contrary to this classification.
In order to put a clear picture, I believe someone like Beyonce presents the image African men hold in their minds. The package can tone down or up a bit more, with no problems.
The explanation of this I believe to be anthropological. In Africa, women are much fuller than Asians. One Tanzanian proverb literally translates “you make your suit according to the piece of cloth you have”. Then with the same proverb, Africans are tailors of big suits.
You see for a reader this must be hard to grasp, but Africans are born in families where, mothers, sisters, aunts and other female relatives have fuller figures. You go to school, church, market or restaurants only to soak and breathe in the fullness of God’s creation. There’s not much option there, “what you see is what you get and what you get is what you have”.
Now due to the rampant presence of sculptured women, African men have learned to appreciate and nurture their dexterity in celebrating fuller women, from years of experience of living with them.
But history offers much reasoning to this phenomenon. Our male ancestors preferred big-busted women since they were regarded highly fertile, promising a lot of kids. This trait might have been retained and passed down through the generations.
But this doesn’t mean there are no smaller women in Africa. There are, but the greater majority is on the other side of the bench. And even most of the smaller African women would still be bigger than the smaller Asian women, for example.
There are places in Africa famous for fuller women. For an African, Beyonce is not big in comparison to what you might stumble upon while traipsing the streets of Botswana or South Africa. If you read the accounts of travellers, African women are one of the culture shocks.
When it comes to issues like anorexia, Africans find it hard to understand since the ideal beauty for them is not packaged in skeletal structures with no comfort. Modelling and beauty contests in a country like Tanzania faces criticism though it still takes place and it’s quite popular.
For Africans, the idea of having a very thin girl representing the nation in a global beauty contest is a bit deceptive since what is beautiful for us is not packaged in Paris Hilton kind of structures, which happens to be the criteria for most of these pageants.
This has led to beauty pageants for fuller women as a means of celebrating the really beauty scattered in the plateaus of Africa.
But remember, though Africans like sculptured women, once in a while it doesn’t hurt to celebrate smaller women.