Get fat to marry: The fading Leblouh tradition of Mauritania….

In Mauritania, the Leblouh custom shrouds young girls in months of relentless feeding, forcing them to swallow gallons of milk, couscous, and animal fat in pursuit of an “ideal” weight for marriage. But this age-old practice, once deeply ingrained in cultural beliefs, now faces fierce opposition due to its detrimental impact on health and well-being.

Rooted in History, Fraught with Risks

Tracing back to the Almoravid Dynasty, obesity was viewed as a symbol of beauty, prosperity, and marriageability. The Leblouh tradition mirrored this notion, confining girls to “fattening rooms” under the control of “fatteners.” These women allegedly inflicted pain to enforce a gruelling regimen of up to 16,000 daily calories, including 2kg of millet mixed with butter and 20 litres of camel milk. This harsh process, lasting for months, put girls at risk of obesity, diabetes, and psychological distress.

A Shift in Consciousness:

Thankfully, the winds of change are blowing. With increased internet access and growing awareness, Mauritanians are questioning the Leblouh tradition. Modern perspectives denounce the practice, advocating for a re-evaluation of beauty standards and prioritizing healthy lifestyles. Organizations and individuals are actively challenging the status quo, promoting self-love and individual well-being as cornerstones of beauty.

At a Crossroads:

As Mauritania strides towards the future, the Leblouh tradition stands at a critical juncture. Caught between preserving cultural heritage and upholding evolving health and beauty ideals, the nation grapples with finding a delicate balance.

Embracing Progress, Respecting Roots:

Culture enthusiasts believe that finding this balance is crucial. They envision a future where Mauritania cherishes its rich history while embracing positive changes that ensure the well-being of its people. Initiatives promoting alternative beauty perceptions and healthy lifestyles offer promising pathways forward.

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