Among the Efik, domiciled in large parts of Akwa Ibom and Cross River States of Nigeria. As the saying goes beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,it is not so with Efik tribes of which beauty is in the eyes of the people .The believed that the bigger is the better, In this culture, the men are conditioned to have a preference for round, fat, overweight women whichin their eyes is the epitome of beauty and symbol of desire, prosperity, wealth, homeliness, motherliness and virtue. Sometime easier pregnancy and fertility are associated with obese women, making the fattening room culture an important aspect of Efik culture and tradition.
Big is beautiful in contrast, slim women are seen as unhealthy, unfed and likely to have difficulty bearing children; and men who prefer them looked down on as tasteless, poor, too Westernised and, ultimately, un-African.Although as a result of modernity as well as the well-known health problems connected to obesity, the cultural practice of fattening room is not as rampant in that part of Nigeria as before, some African societies still view being fat as a symbol of status and power. In fact, some rich grooms or families pay for special “fattening rooms” for their bride to put on extra weight .Ethnic interpretations of what constitutes beauty in a woman aside, medical experts often warn that obesity comes with many negative attributes which are all health related like coronary heart disease, blocking and narrowing the arteries, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, abnormal blood fat, metabolic problems and even early death through stroke.
But like all entrenched cultural practices, the Efik have their own compelling arguments why the curious marriage rites of the fattening room is a very important traditional and cultural event that symbolises wealth, prosperity, good fortune and beauty by the bride to her husband.