Oh, To Be Rich and Fat in Swaziland

Or is it, Rich and Thin in Swaziland? If you are one of the 13 Queens to the King, what size dress do you aspire to wear for his birthday party?

As you approach the haute couture shops in Dubai if you are one of the lucky 8 wives who gets to go by private jet on the shopping spree that starts off in Dubai and lands up in Thailand, what size Chanel do you aspire to fit into?

If you are lucky enough to be one of the 8 wives, along with your assistants, maids, bodyguards and the other princes and princesses, (altogether about 100 people), are you dieting to fit into your outfit for the 40/40 celebration, or is it a sign of beauty, to be a size 16?

Tough question to ponder. For as we know, if you are living in a country where two thirds of the population is starving, perhaps it is not so beautiful to be thin. Perhaps in fact, the wives were trying to gain weight for the party.

Perhaps they were all trying to gain 20 pounds to fit into their Balenciaga or Versace dresses. After all, if two thirds of the country is reliant on Food Aid from World Vision, and 70% of the population earns less than $1 a day, perhaps Thin is not so Beautiful here in Swaziland.

My baby brother just got back from spending three months as an intern for the State Department in Swaziland, and I had heard before reading today’s article in the New York Times, about the upcoming festivities for the King.

I had heard of the shopping spree that took 9 days and cost 4 million US dollars. No one really knows who paid: the Royal Family, or the government.

A little hard to separate the monarchy and parliament here in Swaziland. Democracy is a funny word here, where the attorney general Dalmini is part of the Royal Family and the traditional prime minister, Jim Gana, states that “Swazi women shouldn’t march” in reaction to the protests that had started when people heard of the shopping spree.

So, can you be too thin or too rich in Swaziland? I guess you can certainly be too thin, particularly if you are dying of AIDS since the government claims they can’t afford the medicines. Despite the fact that easily half the population has the virus.

But I bet they have size 16 in the Chanel shop in Dubai.

As Erica Jong once said: “You’re not fat, you’re just living in the wrong country.”

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