Curvy vs. Slim Debate Erupts In West Africa, Both Sides Argue That Their Beauty Is Underrated

April 2, 2013  |  

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Historically, it has appeared that the residents of many countries in Africa preferred the more voluptuous, curvy woman over the slim and slender-figured woman. However, lately, preferences appear to be shifting, sparking many public debates among residents of the Ivory Coast, regarding which physique is more desirable, reports the New York Daily News.

“Being thin is synonymous with being sickly and malnourished in African society,” Micheline Gueu, a candidate in the Miss Ivory Coast beauty pageant, regretfully admitted.

Slim-figured Ivorian singer, Princess Amore, however, is encouraging slender, small-breasted women, whom she refers to as “lalas” to embrace their figures.

“I noticed that some girls were embarrassed to have small breasts and felt like they had to fake it by stuffing their bras,” she told AFP.

Her use of the term “lala” is actually in reference to the word “lolo,” which is commonly used to describe curvy women. In 2000, Ivorian musician Meiway released song, “Mrs. Lolo,” celebrating the curves of voluptuous women. At a concert last year, he yelled out to his audience:

“You White people, you like your women flat and thin. Here, we like them big, with curves.”

Despite the widespread celebration of the “lolos,” the Daily News reports that there are certainly more “lalas” being showcased in the Miss Ivory beauty pageants.

Victor Yapobi, President of the Miss Ivory organizing committee suggests that thinner women are more easily marketed than fuller figured women.

“Our beauties comply to international standards: minimum height 1.68 metres (five feet six inches), 90 centimetres (35 inches) around the hips,” said Yapobi.

It appears that statements like the one made by Yapobi are one of the reasons that curvier African women argue that their beauty is also underrated. In 2009, Abidjan organization, Roundly Beautiful surfaced. Spearheaded by Djeneba Dosso, the organization aims to “rid big women of their complexes.” Although the group celebrates curvy women, organizers also encourage Ivorian women to make healthier choices, as many of them “don’t exercise and eat badly,” says Dosso.

Artist Augustin Kassi, who frequently paints images of full-figured women, disapproves of the beauty pageant, which he refers to as  “voluntary denigration of African beauty.” As a promoter of diversity, it appears that Kassi finds the constant debating to be trivial.

“The world is made up of different things. It’s a rainbow,” he says.

What are your thoughts on the thick vs. slim debate?

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  • The real problem is unity amongst women. Until we can stop the backbiting and backstabbing of each other we will always have these divisive issues among us.

  • sasha

    These women are both beautiful and I’m sure there are plenty of guys who like both body types. But in terms of the “ideal” I would probably think it was inbetween those two in the US 2-8 type range (it seems like the larger girl is at the low end of plus size (12-16) and the smaller girl is like, a 00 or smaller).

  • Teefah

    I live in Nigeria, and most of the women in my social circle (that I relate with) want to be small sized, so a UK size 10/12 and below. Most of my friends work out, count calories, reduce carbs in a bid to stay small. Yoga, Insanity Workout & Calorie Counting has become the daily part of most conversations.
    But my mom says in her time being heavier set was a sign of “living well” not any more with my generation. Its about being and looking healthy.
    If you’re big/thin and healthy that’s all that matters in my book. But i feel more African women have become more conscious of their weight, working out and eating healthy.

  • Yanez

    I don’t think the issue should be big versus slim. The only issue I see with the two women pictured above is that fake hair they slapped on their heads. People come in all different shapes and sizes. If anything, healthy eating should be practiced whether you are big or small. That fake hair is where the self esteem issues lie. Folks need to learn how to work with what they’ve got, not what they have bought.

  • why can’t people just love people for whatever size they are. If you are naturally skinny love it, if you are a naturally curvy girl love it. the problem becomes a matter of health, if you are bordering anorexia..the you need to gain weight and if you are bordering obese you need to lose weight…besides that embrace who GOD naturally made you to be whether skinny or curvy but this is not a surprise in Africa they tend to think that curvy women are more beautiful.

    • Brit

      I think both of these women are attractive, minus the drawn on eyebrows. I’m tired of people saying slim women look like boys just because they might not have big breasts, hips, thighs etc. It’s not right to strip someone of their womanhood because they don’t fit your standards.

      The bigger woman is beautiful in her own right also.

      As you said, it’s a matter of health, not simply appearance.

  • Ms. Information

    That is fat, not thick.

    • FromUR2UB

      Yeah, and curvy means “has a shape”, which neither of those women pictured has. The one on the right looks like a boy.

  • pickneychile

    Hmmm…always been slim but I grew up hearing thicker/heavier is where it’s at and “slimmaz” need to gain weight. Eh, I love my body and I would hope other women love theres as well. Now if it’s crossing the line of being underweight or obese than you may have a problem. But if you’re healthy I see no issue with different body types. I hate how everything becomes a battle with women, just love yourself and big up unnu self whatever your body type is! Slim, fluffy, straight, curvy, no big deal and guaranteed there will be someone who finds you beautiful regardless!

    • ProSimmons

      I love your positivity. You rock!

      • pickneychile

        Awww thank you!