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ISSN: 0331-4111  e-ISSN: 2736-075X
Volume 18, No. 1, June 2020
Pages 131-147

DOI: 10.36108/NJSA/0202/81(0190)

“She was neither unduly Fat nor Lanky”: Representation of Body Size and Beauty in the novels of Daniel O. Fágúnwà

1, 2Fausat Motunrayo Ibrahim &1Ayodele S. Jegede
1Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria;

2Federal College of Forestry, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria,  Ibadan, Nigeria



The climate of thought regarding beauty characterization among Africans and other people of colour portrays the large body as beautiful. This reflects that body size and beauty is racially and culturally expressive, making it apposite to be disparate in advancing related discourses. This is particularly important because such discourses can influence Africans’ evaluation of their self-worth. The concerns generated by the global rise in obesity further create interest in these issues. African literature offers a fine and disparate platform to understand social realities. Consequently, relevant contents of the five precedent Yorùbá novels of Daniel Fágúnwà including Igbó Olódùmarè, Ìrèké Oníbùdó,Ògbójú ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmọlè, Ìrìnkèrindò nínú Igbó Elégbèje and Àdììtú Olódùmarè were extracted and analyzed to examine association of beauty with body sizes. Findings reflect more of bipolarity in the definition of beauty, such that the none-fat/none-thin structure is conveyed as beautiful. Concurrently, the fat and the thin is also portrayed as beautiful, making ‘body size’ definition of beauty to be elusive, and strongly suggesting neutrality to body size among the Yorùbá. This is strongly borne out of Fágúnwà’s and indeed, Yorùbá construction of beauty from a ‘character’ perspective. Character (ìwà) is staunchly expounded as constituting beauty. The beautiful body size is indeterminate in Fágúnwà’s narratives and indeed, in Yorùbá thought.

Keywords:     Africa, body size, beauty, Fágúnwà, literature, Yorùbá

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