While many people in the west take up diets to lose weight, a remote tribe in Ethiopia does the exact opposite in an annual competition where the aim is to gain the largest waistline.
Members of the Bodi tribe will drink nothing but fresh milk and blood from cows to pile on the pounds over the course of six months.
As well as the high calorie intake, those who take part are prohibited from having sex or leaving their hut in order to increase the size of their waistlines, a feature which is considered attractive by the tribe.
An unmarried man is presented by each family in the village to take part in the annual challenge, living in effective isolation for the duration while women deliver milk and blood each morning in pots or bamboos.
When the contest – which forms part of the Ka’el ritual held to mark the New Year – is completed, the participants cover themselves in clay and ashes before emerging from their hut.
On the day of the ceremony, the men walk around a sacred tree for hours presenting their new physiques while other villagers watch from afar, including women seeking potential future husbands.
The winner is announced as the pride of the tribe and considered a hero for life for their incredible feat.
Eric Lafforgue, a French photographer who spent time with the tribe several years back, told the Daily Mail: “The cows are sacred to the Bodi tribe so they are not killed.
“The blood is taken by making a hole in a vein with a spear or an axe, and after that, they will close with clay.
“The fat men drink milk and blood all day long. The first bowl of blood is drunk at sunrise.
“The man must drink it quickly before it coagulates, but some cannot drink everything and vomit.”
Speaking about the ceremony, Lafforgue explained: “Some fat men are so big that they cannot walk anymore.
“One asked me if he could use my car to go to the ceremony area.
“Once in the car, he started to drink milk and blood again because he said he wanted to keep trying to be the fattest until the very last moment.”
After the annual celebration, the men go back to their daily lives, eating sparingly in order to lose their huge bellies.
A few weeks after, the next group of unmarried men will be chosen to take part in the competition.
“Becoming a fat man is the dream of every Bodi kid,” said Lafforgue. “A few weeks [after the ceremony] he will recover a normal stomach but he will remain a hero for life.”
Featured Image Credit: Eric Lafforgue/Art In All Of Us/Corbis via Getty Images