I am currently reading The Journeyer, by Gary Jennings, a story based on the life of Marco Polo. He travels through Arabian nations. Below is an excerpt:
The street clothes of an Arab man may be ugly to our eyes, but they are less so than the street clothes of an Arab woman. And hers are uglier because they are so unfemininely indistinguishable from his. She wears identically voluminous troussés and shirt and aba, but instead of a kaffiyah headcloth she wears a chador, or veil, which hangs from the crown of her head almost to her feet, before and behind and all around her. Some women wear a black chador thin enough so that they can see dimly through it without being seen themselves; others wear a heavier chador with a narrow slit opening in front of their eyes. Swathed in all those layers of clothes and veil, a woman’s form is only a sort of walking heap. Indeed, unless she is walking, a non-Arab can hardly tell which is her front and which her back.
With grimaces and gestures, I managed to convey a question to my companions. Suppose that, in the manner of Venetian young men, they should go strolling about the streets to ogle the beautiful young women—how would they know if a woman was beautiful?
They gave me to understand that the prime mark of beauty in a Muslim woman is not the comeliness of her face or her eyes or her figure in general. It is the massive amplitude of her hips and her behind. To the experienced eye, the boys assured me, those great quivery rotundities are discernible even in a woman’s street garb. But they warned me not to be misled by appearances; many women, they indicated, falsely padded out their haunches and buttocks to a counterfeit immensity.
Counterfeit immensity of the haunches? Is that like padding your bra?