The Women of Tonga
The women in the Kingdom of Tonga are beautiful and large. Many are over six feet all and well over two hundred pounds.
In fact, the bigger you are in Tonga, the more respect you have.
That’s a hard concept for people in North America – a place where slim and skinny are preferred by both men and women – to grasp. Fat people have little prestige in North America, the exact opposite of the cultural norm in Tonga.
Even in beauty contests in Tonga, slim women are not considered to possess the optimal female form, and large smooth-skinned brown women are considered the most beautiful. Poise and grace are important considerations as well, along with their dancing finesse.
Women in Tonga also have greater social prestige than the men, and a man’s sister will outrank him socially even if he is the older sibling.
Tonga is a Matriarchal Society
It is a Matriarchal society, where the women run all the businesses and the men do all the cleaning, fishing, farming and labour work. Isn’t that the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard?! Both the men and women seem quite happy with their roles.
It’s not uncommon in Tonga for the eldest woman in a household to come after a man with a bamboo stick, beating him about the neck and head, especially after a night of drinking kava. See: Tonga: Invitation To A Kava Ceremony
A Land Where Big Women Are The Most Beautiful
Tongan women walking along the street.
T said he was going to start a Men’s Liberation group here!
Hah! Seems to me this is the perfect society, just as it is, where women don’t have societal and male pressure to be skinny, where a size sixteen is considered perfect and where women run the businesses and men look after the cleaning and physical labour. What do you think women readers? Men?
The men of Tonga are still warriors, muscular, fit and active, but their status is still below that of the women.
But times are changing in Tonga.
With the widespread influence of the internet and television and more recently, tourists, both men and women are not as large as they were in former days.
I’m not sure this is such a good thing.
There has been some negative press that Tongans are one of the most overweight people in the world. How sad to denigrate a society whose people have strong moral values, a people who love and honour family, who love to laugh and are happier than most of the people in many countries we have visited, especially compared to North America.
Big Women, Happy Tongan Life
Here are the beautiful sweet strong Tongan women who looked after us at Keleti Beach Resort, Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu Island, Tonga.
This article was first published on Travel To Little Known Places, August, 2013.