English

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i please need help with two short stories today.

i write the first one here it be called Chicken-Hips.

The women of the household clucked disapprovingly when they saw me. It was the first time I had worn African clothes since my arrival in tiny, dusty Gambia, and evidently they were not impressed. They adjusted my head-tie and pulled my lappa, the ankle-length fabric I had wrapped around myself, even tighter, “You’re too thin,” one of them pronounced. “It’s no good.” They nicknamed me “Chicken-Hips.”

I marveled at this accolade, for I had never been called thin in my life. It was something I longed for. I would have been flattered if those ample-bosomed women hadn’t looked so distressed. It was obvious I fell short of their ideal of beauty.

I had dressed up for a very special occasion –the baptism of a son. The women heaped rice into tin basins the size of laundry tubs, shaping it into mounds with their hands. Five of us sat around one basin, thrusting our fingers into the scalding food. These women ate with such relish, such joy. They pressed the rice into balls in their fists, squeezing until the bright red palm oil ran down their forearms and dripped off their elbows.

I tried desperately, but I could not eat enough to please them. It was hard for me to explain that I come from a culture in which it was almost unseemly for a woman to eat too heartily. It was considered unattractive. It was even harder to explain that to me thin is beautiful, and in my country we deny ourselves food in pursuit of perfect slenderness.

That night, everyone danced to welcome the baby. Women swiveled their broad hips, and used their hands to emphasize the roundness of their bodies. One needed to be round and wide to make the dance beautiful. There was no place for thinness here. It made people sad. It reminded them of things they wanted to forget, such as poverty, drought and starvation. You never knew when the rice was going to run out.

I began to believe that Africa’s image of the perfect female body was far more realistic than the long-legged leanness I had been conditioned to admire. There, it is beautiful – not shameful – to carry weight on the hips and thighs, to have a round stomach and heavy, swinging breasts. Women do not battle the bulge, they celebrate it. A body is not something to be tamed and molded.

The friends who had christened me Chicken-Hips made it their mission to fatten me up. It wasn’t long before a diet of rice and rich, oily stew twice a day began to change me. Every month, the women would take a stick and measure my backside, noting with pleasure its gradual expansion. “Oh Catherine, your buttocks are getting nice now!” they would say.

What was extraordinary was that I, too, believed I was becoming beautiful. There was no sense of panic, no shame, no guilt-ridden resolves to go on the miracle grape-and-water diet. One day, I tied my lappa tight across my hips and went to the market to buy beer for a wedding. I carried the crate of bottles home on my head, swinging my hips slowly as I walked. I felt transformed.

In Gambia, people don’t use words such as “cheating,” “naughty or “guilty” when they talk about eating. The language of sin is not applied to food. Fat is desirable. It holds beneficial meaning of abundance, fertility and health.

My perception of beauty altered as my body did. The European tourists on the beach began to look strange and skeletal rather than “slim.” They had no hips. They seemed devoid of shape and substance. Women I once would have envied appeared fragile and even ugly. The ideal they represented no longer made sense.

After a year, I came home. I preached my new way of seeing to anyone who would listen. I wanted to cling to the liberating belief that losing weight had nothing to do with self-love.

Family members kindly started suggesting that I might look and feel better if I slimmed down a little. They encouraged me to join an exercise club. I wandered around the malls in a dislocated daze.

I felt uncomfortable try on clothes that hung so eloquently on the mannequins. I began hearing old voices inside my head: plaid makes you look fat… you’re too short for that style…vertical stripes are more slimming… wear black”. I joined the club. Just a few weeks after I had warn a lappa and scooped up rice with my hands, I was climbing into pink leotards and aerobics shoes. The instructor told me that I had to set fitness goals and “weigh in” after my work outs. There were mirrors on the walls and I could see women watching themselves. I sensed that even the loveliest among them felt they were somehow flawed. As their aerobics instructor barked out commands for arm lifts and leg lifts, I pictured Gambian women pounding millets and dancing in a circle with their arms raised high. I do not mean to romanticize their rock-hard lives, but we were hardly to be envied as we ran like fools between two walls to the tiresome beats of synthesized music.

We were a room full of women striving to reshape ourselves into some kind of pubertal ideal. I reverted to my natural stage: one of yearning to be slimmer and most fit that I was. My freedom had been temporary. I was home, where fat is feared and despised. It was time to exert control over my body and my life. I dreaded the thought of people saying “she’s let herself go.” If it returned to Africa I am sure the women will shake their heads in bewildered dismay. Even now I sometimes catch my reflection in a window and there voices come back to me. “Yo! Chicken-Hips!”

it ask what be other two things essay compare? this story mainly be contrast of ideals of beauty in gambia and canada.

do it compare health? i not know the other two thing it compare.

it also ask do pigott Establish her contrast largely “point by point” or by “halves” I not understand what this mean

  • English -

    How selectively do author select details frm her year in Africa? It say that in first paragraph for instance do she mention anything at all that be not important to her theme?

    I not get this one either. It not give any details in Africa in this paragraph. It tell about food, and how they dance.

    i also not get these one:

    What classic methods of organization do author exploit n her introductory and conclusion?

  • English -

    I'll add my ideas about this assignment:

    it ask what be other two things essay compare? this story mainly be contrast of ideals of beauty in gambia and canada.
    I agree with you. The two things being contrasted here are the concepts/ideals of beauty in each country. In writing about that main, overarching contrast, you can also compare the different habits in eating (eating lots vs eating very little) and you can contrast what the concept implies: thin people represent poverty, etc.; round heavy people represent times of plenty and riches (lots of food).

    do it compare health? i not know the other two thing it compare.
    See above.

    it also ask do pigott Establish her contrast largely “point by point” or by “halves” I not understand what this mean

    There are two ways to write comparison/contrast papers, and you must plan it all out very carefully.

    Point by point = what I call 'zig-zag' pattern because throughout your paper you'd be explaining one, then the other; then the first one; then the other; then the first one again; then the other. It's a difficult pattern to follow because it's easy to lose your reader this way unless you're very skilled.

    By halves = what I call topic-by-topic. That is you write all about one of the sides of the comparison/contrast in one section; then you write all about the other side of the comparison/contrast in another section.

    I'll look around the internet and see if I can find examples of both types. Meantime, here are directions I've given in the past for this type of assignment AND for how to organize a paper 'by halves."

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Whenever you are writing a comparison/contrast paper (paragraph, essay, research paper), you need to plan it out very carefully on paper first.

    Try this:

    1. Write all the information about one of your topics on one page.
    2. Write all the information about the other topic on another page.
    3. Then put them together in this order:

    1. Intro
    2. All about topic A
    ~~~2A. detail 1
    ~~~2B. detail 2
    ~~~2C. detail 3
    ~~~2D. detail 4
    ~~~2E. detail 5
    3. All about topic B
    ~~~3A. detail 1
    ~~~3B. detail 2
    ~~~3C. detail 3
    ~~~3D. detail 4
    ~~~3E. detail 5
    4. Concl.

    The number of details for each topic will vary depending on your main points. I would include comparisons (how they are similar) in the introduction and conclusion, but sections 2 and 3 and all those details will be stating and explaining how they are different.

    There are two recognized patterns for writing comparison/contrast papers. One is casually referred to as "zig-zag,” but can be very confusing for the reader if you don’t use transitions effectively. The other is topic-by-topic (which is what I've outlined above) and is much easier for the reader to follow.

    See http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/comparcontrast.html for further help with comparison/contrast writing.

  • English -

    thank you very much Writeacher i think author establish her contrast by halves. because in starting she talk about what gambian people do and in last part she mention about europe atmosphere.

  • English -

    You're exactly right ... yes!

  • English -

    i not get these ones either:

    How selectively do author select details frm her year in Africa? It say that in first paragraph for instance do she mention anything at all that be not important to her theme?

    I not get this one either. It not give any details in Africa in this paragraph. It tell about food, and how they dance.

    i also not get these one:

    What classic methods of organization do author exploit n her introductory and conclusion?

    Women in gambia give author nickname of chicken hips, because of how skinny she be. Make 5 other more metaphor they might have used to say same thing.
    I get grasshopper, chopstick, spindleshanks, beanpole, dental floss

    Where do sense images most powerfully help us ‘see’authors point?
    That be when she describing body shape?

    the type of vocab author use in essay, what sort of audience she be aiming at?
    adults? I not know.

  • English -

    If you feel you need to read a couple of other stories/essays like this, let me know -- if you want to make sure you understand the point-by-point vs 'by halves' idea (patterns of writing).

    They're easy to find if you want them. If you don't need them, that's OK, too!

  • English -

    thanks writeacher i just need help with above questions

  • English -

    OK -- you did well, Mohammad. Nice work.

  • English -

    i guess on these ones because i not understand them

    How selectively do author select details frm her year in Africa? It say that in first paragraph for instance do she mention anything at all that be not important to her theme?

    I not get this one either. It not give any details in Africa in this paragraph. It tell about food, and how they dance.

    i also not get these one:

    What classic methods of organization do author exploit n her introductory and conclusion?

    Women in gambia give author nickname of chicken hips, because of how skinny she be. Make 5 other more metaphor they might have used to say same thing.
    I get grasshopper, chopstick, spindleshanks, beanpole, dental floss

    Where do sense images most powerfully help us ‘see’authors point?
    That be when she describing body shape?

    the type of vocab author use in essay, what sort of audience she be aiming at?
    adults? I not know.

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