Africa · Blogging · Me myself and I · Thoughts

Out of Africa…  (2)

I am a woman.

Shocking, I know. But as a woman, I long struggled with my image… I don’t mean to say that men don’t worry about how good they look, but unfortunately, I still believe to this day that a man can be attractive to women no matter what he looks like, if he is brilliant, has a good sense of humor, and in some cases, if he has money and/or power.

I’d like to say that the same applies to women, and it should. But in general, a woman still has to be beautiful in some way to attract men.

In general.

But what does that have to do with your African journey, Cyranny?

I am getting to it.

Coming from North America, and hanging with expat kids coming mainly from the U.S., Canada, France and Belgium, I knew boys prefered slim beautiful girls. I was neither, and I knew my chances of charming any of the few pre-teenage boys I hung around with at school was slim to none.

Oh, I was friends with most of them… But I was the girl they came to when they wanted to know how to get to the cute ones. I was lucky not to get the mockery I probably would have been served if we had stayed in Canada, but there was never that sparkle in boys’ eyes when we spent one on one time.

Thin and lissome never applied to my figure, and I quickly got stuck in the “friend zone”. I remember that by the age of thirteen or fourteen, I was considering becoming a nun. Not that I was particularly religious, but already being the helpless romantic that I still am, I figured the best way not to suffer from boys’ ignorance, was to live away from them all…

I changed my mind, since. Thank God! (LOL)

I soon learnt one mind boggling lesson, Guinea had in store for me.

Every year, we came back to Canada during the summer school break. And to make a long story short (we’ll probably come to it later anyway), food was an issue in Kamsar. We only got two deliveries a month, by boat. One of them coming from the U.S. and the other one from Belgium. Providers knew well that we wouldn’t send stuff back, so it wasn’t unusual to get passed due products. Eating was often a “will we get sick this time?” lottery…

So when we returned to Québec for a couple of weeks, we tended to eat a lot. And, of course, that meant putting on a couple extra pounds. Ok, we probably looked like bears preparing for hibernation!

When the summer was over, back in Kamsar, Mom and I would often get the same comment from locals… “Madame, vous avez grandi!!” (Madam, you’ve grown!!) And they didn’t mean “growing up”. No they were telling us straight forward that we were fatter. But not in a mocking way, or with a blaming tone. No, it was clearly a compliment.

Mom told to me that in Guinea, fat women were considered beautiful. That seemed awkward to me, but she went on explaining how most people there were super slim because they didn’t eat much and worked really hard everyday. A chubby woman figure meant that her family was rich. That she could eat more than the other women, and that she probably didn’t have to work as hard.

For local men, I was the jackpot. Large and white. The perfect personification of wealth! Dad probably looked like a very respectable guy, obviously feeding his wife and daughter better than most of the other expats!

Young (and less than young) men came to our home’s gate from time to time… Some of them would call to our house, hoping to get a chance to “date” me. Dad even discussed trading me for a number of cows once. (bargaining is a game Dad can’t resist, and arranged marriages were still very common in Guinea back then… I know he never would have seriously considered closing the deal, but I bet he had a lot of fun figuring out what I was worth)

I don’t care about my body weight now. Looking around me, I can see how that is a gift, because most women I know will struggle with that until they move to a retiring home… I guess living in a place where double standards applied, it made me realize that weight really didn’t matter. How could it, if I was at the same time, the less attractive and the most desirable girl in town??

Just another lesson Africa taught me.

Thank you, Africa!


Via today’s Word of the Day: Lissome  

37 thoughts on “Out of Africa…  (2)

    1. Thank you 🙂 I must admit, I struggled with weight for a while even after coming back to Canada for good. It took some time for this life lesson to really work its magic… But I definately think that living with people who had such another definition of physical beauty really changed my way of seeing things 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great blog.
    It’s a shame we live in such a judgemental society, where we have standards of acceptable looks forced on us. As a man, when I was younger I was judged for being to slim, and not having enough muscle. I’m not saying that every person needs to find every other person attractive. If you’re not attracted to bigger women, smaller men, or for any other reason, that’s fine. The problem is in the judgement of others. If you’re not attracted to someone, just move on the comments are unnecessary.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are bringing very good points here… And although I do think judgement is harsher on women when it comes to looks, I know men are put under more and more pressure too.

      I think it is sad that society sets such standards. Not only because people try to meet them and often can’t, and because people who like what’s outside the “norm” are judged too.

      When I was very heavy, I met men who told me they liked women with good curves… But they didn’t feel comfortable intrducing me to their friends, because they would have judged them.


      1. I agree, the pressure for women to look and act a certain way is harsher. Society is more likely to give a man a pass.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Eleanor, you butterfly Lady…

      I can only try to imagine the judgements you had to face… I hope as time goes by, you feel more and more beautiful, because you really are 🙂

      Thank you for the kind words xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Glad you liked the image 🙂 I think there will always be judgement, hoping for a world without judgement is utopian… But Becoming your own true best friend and choosing the right people to be around you helps a lot, in shielding yourself from people’s judgemental ways…. At least, that’s what I think…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point! And that reminded me of the fact that for a lot of Asian people, a light skin is more beautiful, because it used to be a sign of wealth (not working in the fields under the sun). On the opposite, most Caucasian people consider a tan beautiful… The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, isn’t it? 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful, raw, open and funny as usual. I loved the part about your Dad playing the trading game. (Happy he wasn’t serious). Great post on this vital subject of how much weight and body image effect the lives of women and girls, from childhood on to the retirement home, (loved that) and how it can change from culture to country. Thanks for another wonderful post Cee!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww thank you so much for the kind words 🙂 Dad is quite a number! You’ll see that in other “episodes” I wouldn’t want to spoil any punch, but he certainly was one of, if not THE expat the locals liked the best. And I can’t blame them for it… He is awesome!

      Regarding looks, if there is one good thing about aging, it is learning how to care less and less about what people think about how I look 🙂

      Thanks again 🙂 xx


    1. Africa is a large continent, but believe me, I know West Africa is a great place to live! I miss it every now and then 🙂 I have tons of great memories of my time there…. I’ll make sure to check out your blog xx


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