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Ethiopia and body image

Posted by Slummy single mummy
Slummy single mummy
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on Monday, 18 March 2013
I got back on Sunday from a week in Ethiopia, finding out more about development work and food initiatives as part of the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign. The whole visit was amazing – the progress the country has made over the last 30 years is staggering. There was one thing though, unconnected to food or the environment that, as a parent of two daughters, really struck me.


It was nearly the end of the week, we’d visited so many inspiring women already, and it struck me how relaxed and at ease with themselves everyone seemed, despite whatever difficult situations they might be living in.

I asked our Ethiopian guide if in Ethiopia there was the same kind of beauty culture as in the UK, a pressure for women to look a certain way or be a particular size or shape. He looked at me blankly. He literally didn’t understand the question.

“In the UK,” I said, “there is a lot of pressure on women and young girls to be very thin, to look like models.”

He looked vaguely horrified.


“Is there a similar thing in Ethiopia where women try to look a certain way?” He shook his head, as though I was clearly bonkers. “No,” he said. “Nothing like that.”

Can you imagine bringing up girls in a culture where body image simply wasn’t an issue?

Ethiopia may still have a way to go development wise but I’m sincerely hoping there are some things that won’t change.

Read more about Jo's visit to Ethiopia here

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