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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

A mother's guilt

Posted by Slummy single mummy
Slummy single mummy
Slummy single mummy has not set their biography yet
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on Monday, 18 February 2013
This time in three weeks I’m going to be in Ethiopia. Yep, that’s right, THE Ethiopia. The hot one with all the famine.

I’m going with World Vision to raise awareness of the IF campaign and it’s a fantastic honour, but to be honest, I scared. I’ve never been further than Spain in my whole life before, and that was too hot. I just had to lie around on the beach like a big sweaty whale.

Also, I get hungry a lot, and worry about getting hungry too. I’m guessing it’s not OK just to whip out a Mars Bar when you’re visiting an Ethiopian food initiative.

Mostly though, I’m nervous about meeting other mums. On one level, we’ll have this massive, basic thing in common, and yet how can our lives ever really compare? When I tell people that I was pregnant at 16, and that I went to university with a toddler, they tend to look impressed, as though I have somehow battled against the odds, but really, how much of a challenge was it?

Having my daughter was ultimately a choice. Carrying on with my A-levels was something I didn’t think twice about. Being able to go to university at all should be considered a privilege, not a challenge.

I am wondering how I will look these women in the eye, who at 16 may be struggling to feed two children already, and not feel like a fraud – a fraud for ever feeling like I’ve struggled, like I’ve had ‘a bad day’.

But then perhaps that will be something else we have in common. What’s motherhood after all without a good dollop of guilt?

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