Social media plays a major part in influencing beauty standards, and as several platforms are selling flawless skin, perfect contouring, Botox-filled cheeks and lips, influenced users scurry to mirror those characteristics. While it’s true that some are blessed with these characteristics naturally, in reality most people don’t. So, who are we engaging with when we want a reflection of a real woman?
We’re following the women defying common ideals that dictate what our faces and bodies must emulate. The unattainable look or the exaggerated caricature of a woman is no longer in, and we are here for it. These are the inspiring Arab bloggers who are championing positive body and beauty images, whilst being unique and embracing their natural beauty.
With skin fairness and whitening products being a lucrative market within the Arab region, Abeer Sinder felt under-represented in Saudi Arabia as a dark-skinned woman and took on the position of the kingdom’s first black beauty and health vlogger.
Having endured anti-black prejudice within the Arab world, she spoke to The New Arab and explained her harrowing accounts and feelings, "I started to hear so many hateful, racist comments that made me hate myself for a while... I even considered skin bleaching.” Using her YouTube channel to voice her experiences, the Saudi vlogger urges and empowers women to accept and love the looks they were born with, flaws and all.
Shahad Salman is the Saudi Arabian beauty who appeared alongside Winnie Harlow in Vogue Arabia’s June 2019. With Harlow being one of her inspirations, the emerging model embraces her vitiligo, which is a skin condition that affects the pigmentation of the skin and causes white patches to develop on the body.
Not letting it hold her back, Salman has also modelled in a luxury campaign for Farfetch and has big plans to front fashion and beauty campaigns, just as she is.
In May 2019, Kuwaiti beauty blogger, Saint Manar, took a major stance when she highlighted body hair in support of the “body hair movement”.
Denounced within the traditional Arab mentality, Manar posted a close up image of the hair on her arms, with the caption “It comes as natural as breathing. I want you to see it,” when she was targeted with a comment asking her to remove the image that revealed the hair on her arms.
Now revered as the Middle East’s “plus size” model, Dubai based French-Tunisian Ameni Esseibi got her first big break just last year when she signed with modelling agencies, Bareface, MA Models and Wilhelmina Dubai, after finding it quite the challenge to work with an agency that would take on a curvy model. Following being signed, Esseibi went on to model at 11 Honore’s launch in the Middle East, which is an online boutique that champions body positivity and inclusivity when it comes to sizing.
Speaking to Vogue Arabia earlier this year, Ameni said, "I don't love the term [curvy model], but I'll take it for now. I'm hoping that one day I'll just be described as a 'model,' and that the boxes we're put into due to our size, color, and origin will be obsolete. I'm surrounded by girls who don't like their bodies; I want to show them that you don't have to look a typical way to achieve what you want.”
Hijabs haven’t always been desired when it comes to the fashion and beauty industry. However, with modest fashion becoming one of the fastest growing and in demand sectors of the fashion industry, hijabi bloggers and influencers have been the ones to watch for their flair for high fashion.
Kuwaiti blogger, Dalal Al Doub is one of the most revered when it comes to representing hijabi women. Taking her 2 million Instagram followers on her travels around the world, and giving them an insight into her working life in which she collaborates with internationally renowned brands, she continually proves that modesty can be beautiful.
Elige Abou Youness
Elige Abou Youness’s stance, when it came to challenging the unattainable beauty standards of today, was a majorly bold and unique move that didn’t go unnoticed.
Day 232 - Willy Wonka "So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. Thank you." FROM MY CLOSET (Spending every day in a different costume) Photo credits @marcmahfouz • • The outfit is missing a chain which fell a bit before I took the picture and gloves which I forgot at home because of who I am as a person. Check the story for collar detail#frommycloset #willywonka #charlieandthechocolatefactory #johnnydepp #genewilder #movie #chocolate #cane #outfit #costume #cosplay #hat #bob #cosplayer #sidebyside #cosplayforacause #beyourself #bereal #beyou
The social media manager, blogger and copywriter, took it upon herself to wear a costume for 5 days a week for the whole year of 2017, in order to defy society’s expectations of beauty that are, more often than not, unachievable without facial and body altering surgeries. Youness once told StepFeed, "The main message behind the project is to encourage people to stop judging others based on their appearances and to emphasize the importance of individuality.”