Culture and Traditional Gambian Dress

Topics: Culture, The Gambia, Africa Pages: 2 (457 words) Published: March 27, 2013
A)In a paragraph, describe the acculturation process that the author experienced and explain how her cultural identity changed.

Catherine Pigott came from a Western background. In Africa, she experienced a dramatically different culture. At first, it must have been very difficult. There was little about her that appealed to the Gambian sense of femininity. She was far too thin by those standards. Consequently, she could not dance as they danced, dress as they dressed, or eat with the relish and gusto becoming of a Gambian woman. Frankly, she was too thin. Her slim physique represented everything synonymous with poverty, drought and starvation. Her body was a cause of sadness for those who looked upon her. If she were to remain in Gambia, she would need to adapt to these rather foreign cultural expectations.

Her new lady friends insisted she gain more weight, and made it a priority to help Catherine accomplish that goal. Pigott began to understand that “big truly is beautiful” in this part of Africa. Everyone looked favourably on a woman carrying weight on her hips and thighs. A woman is beautiful if she has a round stomach and heavy, swinging breasts. This was not Catherine’s cultural ideal. In fact, she had difficulty eating as they did; for her, to eat with such delight and abandon was unattractive.

Nevertheless, with time she gained weight, and slowly began to believe in Africa’s beauty image. She believed she was becoming more beautiful; she let go of the panic, shame and guilt-ridden resolves regarding her weight and eating habits. One day she clothed herself in traditional Gambian dress and made her way to the shops. As she returned, she placed her newly purchased items on her head, and made her way back home, slowly, swinging her hips in the manner of the natives. She was transformed. Now, when she looked upon the skinny European tourists, she did not see an ideal; she saw something more skeletal than slim, lacking in shape and substance. Her...
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