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Bigger is Better Outside the U.S.

American viewers might fall out of their easy chairs if they tuned in to watch the Miss Teen USA or Miss America Pageant and saw a curvaceous 200-pound contestant.

Face it. The American ideal of a beautiful body is shrinking–literally.
Over the last three decades fashion models, Miss America contestants, and Playboy centerfolds have grown steadily thinner, while the average woman’s weight has actually risen, according to Rader Programs, a treatment facility for eating disorders.
Contestants readying themselves for the Queen of Ivory Coast pageant have a perspective on beauty different from thin-obsessed Americans.
“One of your Misses, she follows a no-food diet,” Zisson Sina, one contestant, told Associated Press. “She’s skinny. Her stomach is very flat here. She’s bony here,” she said as she moved her hand over her own rounded collarbones.
Sina said that in Africa the women eat well to keep their figures.
Sponsors of the pageant look for the classic “guitar shape,” describing the ideal Queen as having a “rounded, full-fleshed bottom, well-developed and in movement when the woman moves,” according to AP.
In the past, women have even competed with babies strapped to their backs.
While Americans spend billions of dollars to get a super-thin body, many Africans think plump means prosperity. Thin represents everything bad: poverty, AIDS and other diseases, misery and hunger, AP reported.
“If we see a woman like one of those Misses, we think she doesn’t get enough to eat, or maybe she’s sick, or she’s mistreated by her husband,” contestant Pauline Amlan told AP.
Queen of Ivory Coast was started in 1999 to reinforce Africans’ own traditions of beauty and to combat the images Africans were finding on television, founder Poi Dokoui told AP.
Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.