Uganda women angry over Miss Curvy pageant yet many crave big hips

Uganda's minister for Tourism Godfrey Kiwanda poses next to participants during the launch of the Miss Curvy beauty contest in capital Kampala on February 5, 2019.

Women in Uganda are complaining about objectification. Even those who have never stringed one correct sentence in the English language are protesting bitterly over “dis objectifikesoni” of women, in the Kiganda accent of Kinyankole one like mine.

Half are adding another complaint which is the demeaning or “dimininji” attitude as many of us pronounce it. And why this sudden use of terminologies previously uttered only by experts of Gender Studies and Communication?

It all started with the New Year as we celebrated the crown bagged by our sister, the tall and slender Quiin Abenakyo who emerged second runners-up in the Miss World beauty pageant held in China. She brought home the Miss Africa crown.

The whole country was all over her. The president hosted her twice. Parliament held a special sitting to honour her. The speaker of parliament has been touring the country with Quiin the Queen in tow.

Everybody was happy with the beauty contest that glorifies thin girls. Nobody was thinking about the hurt the plus-size women feel when they are being told that they are not beautiful.

So some not-so-thin women of Uganda decided that if nobody was going to blow their trumpet, they would blow it themselves. They had heard of the Miss Curvy beauty pageants in different parts of the world.

So they decided to launch the Ugandan edition of Miss Curvy, whose finals are slated for May. They got the minister for Tourism Suubi Kiwanda to launch the new pageant, after all he has been launching unique attractions in Uganda in a bid to drive up the tourism figures.

The honourable minister launched the elaborate circumcision ceremony on the slopes of Mount Elgon - the Bagishu (called Bukusu when you cross the border into Kenya). Nobody complained that the Bagishu men are being demeaned.

Then he launched an egg roll locally called rolex (like the watch) and everybody was happy. But last week when he launched the Miss Curvy pageant all hell broke loose.

People have been calling for his lynching, they want his head on a silver platter. They have exhausted all bad names in the dictionary for him. Somehow, feminists have convinced women that the minister is bad.

Visit Kampala and you will meet heavy-set women calling minister Kiwanda unprintable words. What is confusing about the whole thing is that most Ugandan women actually want to be likened to the contest of the amply built, nothing to do with fat.

One of the most advertised products in Kampala is a chain of drugs that allegedly make your derriere grow bigger, because that is what African men are said to like instead of “touching bones”.

Another heavily sold product is padded skirt liners that give you a fake 'bummy' shape. Too many men have spent heavily, courting women wearing this attire only to be disappointed after discovering more bone than flesh.

That is the raging controversy in Kampala and there is no predicting where it will end, if at all it will.


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