January 12, 2011

Jack Sprat and his fat wife

There is an English children's story/nursery rhyme that goes "Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean..."

This rhyme is epitomized in Djibouti. In general most of the men are thin or average. The women, however, are large. Starting around age 30 and going up women are "full figured" as we might say in the US. I often have to walk out on the street to get around women lumbering down the sidewalk, swaying back and forth and generally just taking up a lot of space.

On the bus this week, there was an especially large woman who took waaaaaay too much time getting off the bus. I wanted to just give her a push so I could be on my merry way but alas I waited patiently as she maneuvered her overloaded frame off the bus.

I'm pretty sure I know why the men are thin, many of them chew qat which suppresses their appetite so they don't eat. I only have theories on the women. It seems that it is expected that married women will become larger after marriage. Or maybe Somali women are just genetically predisposed to be overweight. I think men and women generally eat the same foods here so I'm not really sure why the women are so much larger.

I searched google images for pictures of large women in Djibouti but alas I did not find any. 


  1. Diet and lack of exercise. The women there DO eat more than the men. Sugar, white pasta/rice and oil. That's the main diet and the main problem.

  2. That sounds exactly like Valle's problem.

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  4. "lumbering down the sidewalk..." You crack me up.