This week, Egypt’s state radio and TV broadcaster, which is headed by a woman, suspended a group of female anchors for being overweight, the BBC reported. The women were given a month to lose weight so they could go on TV with an “appropriate appearance.”
Needless to say, the move by the broadcaster—headed by former anchor Safaa Hegazy—caused outrage among women’s rights groups and free-press advocates alike. The Women’s Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness said the decision “violates the constitution.” And Mostafa Shawky, an advocate with the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, told the New York Times, “The fact that it is a woman who is doing all of this just makes it all the worse.”
Hegazy, for her part, told AFP the decision affected six to eight anchors, who could “continue working in production during the period when they have to diet.” She said the move was “within the framework of developing the broadcaster.”
Body shaming is alive and well, though it’s worth noting that there are a few isolated signs of hope. Take the support Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno received from Twitter users after her appearance was initially criticized at the Rio Olympics. Then there’s London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, who banned body shaming ads on the Tube.
But this week’s episode goes against such sentiments. At a time when it appears that body image is dissipating as an issue for women, in reality, it’s just as bad as it has always been.
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