ANTA02H3 Lecture Notes - Azawagh Arabs, Coconut Oil, Crystallization

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Published on 20 Apr 2013
School
UTSC
Department
Anthropology
Course
ANTA02H3
February 26, 2013
Lecture #6
BODIES AND BEAUTY: A CROSS-CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE
The way bodies become cultural and meaningful
o Ideals around beauty and bodies
Azawagh Arabs in Niger want to be as fat as possible
What is beautiful in the Trobriands?
Related to broader cultural values
How is Trobriand beauty related to:
o Physical characteristics? value smooth skin, lighter skin, shiny skin (with
coconut oil); idea face is round, shiny like the full moon; nothing particular about
body shape and size
Adornments make you more beautiful by emphasizing your relatedness
to father and place in Trobriand society
To not have earrings = fatherless
o Cultural understandings of appropriate behaviour?
Purpose to attract lovers
Not showing overt emotions important adult skill
You can’t force people to do stuff, you must learn to persuade
This is what teens must learn in their courtship rituals
o Magic? (beauty magic)
A way to influence people
Spells make you even more irresistible spells can make an ugly person
beautiful
Also helps make you look influential
Body Ideals among the Azawagh Arabs
Want to be obese
Most beautiful thing to have is stretch marks
Why are fat women so sexy? According to Popenoe, it can’t be explained as:
o A cause of personal anguish
o The result of environmental factors (eg. scarcity)
o The result of economic factors (eg. poverty)
o An overt celebration/expression of desire and sexuality
Women’s fat bodies crystallize various cultural logics and values, and turn them into
something tangible, including:
o Gender complementarity (men and women are completely different people
but need each other to function fully in the world)
o Modesty, closed-ness, immobility in women (being fat is an extra veil over their
bodies in line with their notions of modesty)
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Document Summary

The way bodies become cultural and meaningful. Azawagh arabs in niger want to be as fat as possible. Value smooth skin, lighter skin, shiny skin (with coconut oil); idea face is round, shiny like the full moon; nothing particular about body shape and size. Adornments make you more beautiful by emphasizing your relatedness to father and place in trobriand society. Not showing overt emotions important adult skill. You can"t force people to do stuff, you must learn to persuade. This is what teens must learn in their courtship rituals: magic? (beauty magic) Spells make you even more irresistible spells can make an ugly person beautiful. Most beautiful thing to have is stretch marks. According to popenoe, it can"t be explained as: a cause of personal anguish, the result of environmental factors (eg. scarcity, the result of economic factors (eg. poverty, an overt celebration/expression of desire and sexuality. Being still and/or immobile is seen as beautiful.

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