Friday, 21 October 2016

Middle Eastern ideologies of beauty and body image.

If you think of a middle eastern women what will come to mind?A covered up women due to the strict clothing orders from their husband or father? This stereotype may be apart of some areas but in fact middle eastern cultures have their own set of beauty standards. Within different aspects of cultures Arab women follow their traditions as well as modern beauty practices to help uphold social standards.The Arab woman that comes to mind when you think is ; dark haired , olive skinned ,dark brown eyed with full lips and a curvy body. Whereas most of these characteristics have remained the same throughout the years aspects such as body shape has varied throughout the times.

The Hijab:is it protection or a threat to body image ideologies?

The hijab is a head scarf that is wore by some Muslim women around the world, opposing some beliefs the rule of the hijab vary across family values as well as culture. There are many different types of hijab which are worn in each different culture based on how covered up the women must be. For example, in some cultures a women is only meant to wear the hijab when she is in public where as when she is in front of family she is not required to wear it. Another controversial point of the hijab is of which age a women should wear the hijab, Arab Americans believe that a woman should wear the hijab when married to avoid being looked at by other men whereas in some other cultures they believe a child as young as 10 should wear it.Some may say that the hijab is a way to objectify women by placing a stereotypical image as culturally suppressed with no dignity. Despite what people say the purpose of the hijab in almost all cultures is to remove women from sexual objectification , the definition of sexual objectification is "the act of treating a person as an instrument of sexual pleasure. Objectification more broadly means treating a person as a commodity or an object without regard to their personality or dignity". (, n.d.) therefore by a women covering herself she is trying to avoid being given sexual comments, objectifying looks and even body evaluations.In reflection to a study linking self- objectification and the hijab there is in fact a correlation with the idea of women simply as sex objects for their husband which is then leading to self objectification , self objectification is described as "Self-objectification is the psychological phenomenon of seeing oneself from an outsider’s perspective, as an object to be viewed — like a painting on a wall ." (aloftyexistence, 2011) The study also pointed out that the pressure of self objectification in Arab women could be a result from the exposure of western cultures beauty standards which can then lead to eating disorders, low self esteem along with body issues in younger Arab women.(What is Beauty?, n.d.)

In the middle east women are typically built curvier than the western countries.The most attractive body type used to be a healthy body with "meat on the bones" but after exposure to the western cultures, women in the middle west started to embrace the unrealistic idealization of body image and beauty that the women in America have.This sadly led to a rise in eating disorders and low self esteem . Regarding the trend of women being skinny in Arab cultures it is actually considered that being heavier reflects in your wealth and beauty and there are reports of in some cultures of there being a rise in obesity in women simply as they prove that they are the richest and prettiest. Parents are even reported to force feed their daughters throughout the day and even waking them up throughout the night to feed them as they believe it would enhance their ability to bare children.
what do you think? do you think that everyone is just reaching for an unreachable body? should everyone just be comfortable in their own body? If everyone women is striving to look the same will the true beauty of each women having her own look/style be lost. As they say the best feature a women can have is confidence in her own skin.
Image one.(, n.d.)
Image result
Image Two.(Haworth, 2011) Force feeding in Mauritania.
Skinny Models
Image Three.(, 2015) The body type everyone woman is trying to achieve. 
Image Four.(Halpin, n.d.)

Bibliography :- (n.d.). 
Sexual objectification. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].

aloftyexistence. (2011).
Self-Objectification. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Oct. 2016].

What is Beauty?. (n.d.). 
Middle Eastern. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2016].

Image, (n.d.). 
Middle western women. [image] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2016].

Image Two.Haworth, A. (2011).
 Forced to Be Fat/ in mauritania where mothers will force feed their child in order to get a better suiter. [image] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2016].

Image, (2015).
 France bans super-skinny models in anorexia clampdown/ this is the type of body that everyone is trying to achieve. [image] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2016].

Image Four.Halpin, A. (n.d.). 
The body "beautiful"/"THE MEDIA PLAYS A MAJOR ROLE IN THE CREATION OF THE IDEALISED BODY TYPES” a photograph adriana lima before photoshop. [image] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2016].


  1. You threw me a little curve ball at the end of paragraph two!

    Enjoyed the questions throughout, made me question my own opinions and what you were informing us of your own.

    I wonder if there is that self objectification, what women resort to in order to achieve their ideals, in the Middle East? What methods do they use to gain their ideal? What does their beauty cost, finance, social status etc.

    Check this light reading out for the western influence on Muslim beauty.... may fit in with your discussion. There may be some controversy with this in the Muslim world 🤔

    Well done xxx

    1. The middle east is the only region that has continued to grow in regards to the make up industry, they have a 12% yearly growth rate and this includes the years during the recession as well as the rise in living cost. could this be a prime example of how the middle eastern women will spend whatever is needed in order to have the ideal look that is becoming more prominent. The middle east has also become the plastic surgery hub.The most popular procedures which are done include; liposuction , breast enhancement , abdominoplasty ( a.k.a tummy tuck) and rhinoplasty ( a.ka nose surgery) this can be linked back with the typical body type of a middle eastern women and how the influence of western trends have corrupted the middle eastern women.