SHATTERING THE SOCIAL MEDIA BEAUTY ILLUSION
Women around the world are bombarded with media images of physical “perfection”, leaving many feeling inadequate. This summer, two SAT-7 women’s programs are tackling the sources of this pressure. By exposing the illusion of perfection, the shows are helping Middle Eastern women feel beautiful as they are.
As women and girls in the Middle East and North Africa spend more time on social media, they are feeling the pressure to live up to the unrealistic images that they see. In summer, body image pressure is at its worst.
Speaking on the live SAT-7 ARABIC relationships program From Heart to Heart, counsellor Drucilla Tabary said:
“Women spend one-third of their working day on social media. This is plenty of time to be exposed to edited photographs of models. These images create an illusion that women seek to copy.”
Social media use has been linked to mental health problems in young women, partly for precisely this reason.
REVEALING THE PROCESS
As summer begins, both From Heart to Heart and the popular women’s program Needle and New Thread tackled the issue of impossible beauty standards in the media.
A revealing video clip on From Heart to Heart showed several models wearing no make-up, then showed the same women made up professionally to show how much work is done to create the look.
PRESSURE FROM ALL SIDES
The program also identified a further source of pressure for women: their own husbands.
In a trend that would largely be considered unacceptable in the West, some Middle Eastern men are comparing their wives to the women they see on television and making beauty decisions on their wives’ behalf.
“IT IS NOT FAIR”
“Many men have a say in their wives’ looks,” said hairdresser Randa Hafez. “I meet women who want to have certain hairstyles because their husbands like them, and some men even come to the salon and choose their wives’ hair colour.”
The program had a special message for men watching: the “beautiful” women they see on TV are truly no more beautiful than their own partners.
“It is not fair when a man sees a ‘perfect-looking’ woman on television and compares her to his wife. If he were to see the women without make-up, lighting, and camera effects, he would realise that they are no different,” Tabary said.
Needle and New Thread brought to light a second worrying trend. Increasingly, women in the Middle East and North Africa are bringing photos of celebrities to appointments and asking for the same look.
Beauty salon owner and make-up artist Sahar Abdel Shahid said:
“Many girls ask to change their hair colour to copy well-known actresses. They want to change their hair colour and style because they do not feel confident about themselves. They think that when they change their looks, they will be more beautiful and accepted.”
“THIS IS TRUE BEAUTY”
Needle and New Thread recognised that beauty treatments can be very positive for women, providing a means of self-care and relaxation.
However, to help women cope with the pressure, Needle and New Thread encouraged them to find ways to feel confident in their own inner beauty.
“Personality is more important than looks”, said Abdel Shahid. “This is true beauty.”