World Celebrations: Beauty In The Desert

Sep 6, 2013

Forget the bathing suits, Cure Salée is for men only.

The Sahara Desert is populated by nomads who use camels for transportation, bring live goats and sheep for fresh victuals as needed, and traverse the land buying and selling. For one week in September, the Tuareg and Fulani tribes gather at In-Gall, a fertile area of salt-laden grass, on which they feed their cattle. (Cows require salt to maintain good health.) This is also an opportunity to meet and mingle, and perhaps find romance.

One of the most amazing rituals that takes place here is the Cure Salée Festival, a male beauty competition. The guys abandon showing off their muscle bound bodies--instead, they braid their hair, put on a bit of slap, which includes black lips, deck themselves in finery and proceed to sway, dance and contort their faces for the women to admire. Because physical beauty among the tribes is very important, an ugly man may even permit his wife to take on a better looking mate for procreation. That way, the kids turn out more attractive. By the way, the hallmarks of attractiveness are a lean body, a long slender nose, even, white teeth and bright, shinning eyes. Ready to enter?