Go big or go home - if you want to be Ivory Coast beauty
ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST
SOME like creams, others pop pills or splash out on padded panties. In Ivory Coast where "big is beautiful", bottom enhancers come in all shapes and sorts, and at any cost.
Emaciated catwalk queens are no role model in this West African nation.
"You need to have good hips to be dubbed a beauty in Ivory Coast," said a saleswoman named Sarah.
Round is beautiful as it symbolises wealth and health, said political scientist Jean Alabro.
It also heralds "happy pregnancies", he added.
At Abidjan's biggest market, Treichville, a shop owner who gave her name as Evelyne does a busy trade in "grossifesse" (butt booster) or "botcho" cream.
In Ivorian slang, botcho means "vast rear end".
The cream, whose label says it is made of cod-liver oil, honey or shea butter, sells like hot cakes.
Dozens fly off the shelves a day, she said, although at 15,000 CFA francs (S$35.70) to 25,000 CFA francs a shot, it is costly in a country where annual income was around 100 euros (S$156) a month in 2014.
"Not a single customer has come back to complain," she added. "It's not like those pills where you puff up and then deflate."
Other "enhancers" in more sophisticated packaging are also sold at Treichville, mostly imported from English-speaking African nations, notably Nigeria.
Often made from corticoids, they can cause diabetes, high blood pressure or infections that potentially can lead to coma, said Fatima Ly, a dermatologist and venereologist in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.
Padded panties and butt boosters are less of a liability, and far cheaper at 9,000 CFA francs a piece at Kader Camara's store.
"They're relatively new on the market," he said.
Another technique involves consuming Maggi instant broth cubes, a staple of African cuisine, but as a suppository rather than as food.
"Women think it will add volume because it's greasy," said a woman called Francine.