Iraqi actress sues The Economist for using a photo of her to illustrate article about Arab women being ‘fatter’ than men
- Iraqi actress sues The Economist for using her photo in story about obesity
- The article discussed why women are fatter than men in the Arab world
- Enas Taleb, 42, decried the ’emotional, mental and social damage’ of the incident
- The British journal chose photo of Taleb at Iraq’s annual cultural Babylon Festival
An Iraqi actress and talk show host has said she is suing The Economist for using her photo to illustrate a story about how women are fatter than men in the Arab world.
Enas Taleb, 42, a well-known television personality within Iraq, was outraged to see a photo of herself during a performance at Iraq’s annual cultural Babylon Festival nine months ago beneath the headline about fat women.
The actress told New Lines Magazine that she has ‘decided to take legal action against The Economist for their cover story.’
‘I am demanding compensation for the emotional, mental and social damage this incident has caused me,’ she said after the article was published on July 28.
Taleb alleged that the image was used out of context, without her permission, and violated her freedom and privacy. She also claimed it had been photoshopped, according to the BBC.
The article in question attempted to tackle the issue of why obesity is more common among women then men in the Middle East and North Africa by examining the cultural, social and economic factors at play.
Enas Taleb, 42, has said she is suing The Economist for using her photo to illustrate a story about how women are fatter than men in the Arab world
The article, released on July 28, used Taleb’s picture beneath the headline: ‘Why women are fatter than men in the Arab world’
Enas Taleb, is a well-known television celebrity in Iraq, ever since her TV debut in 1996 at the age of 16
Of the many potential reasons, it cites the sedentary lifestyle of Arab women who are discouraged from leaving the house, and the carb-heavy diet and fatty foods more easily available to the poorer segments of the population.
Other possible reasons are the lack of women in the workforce and that also Arab men prefer the women chubby.
‘Iraqis often cite Enas Taleb, an actress with ample curves (pictured), as the ideal of beauty,’ the article states.
Taleb called the article an ‘insult to all Arab women’ in general and Iraqi women in particular.
‘Audiences have loved me for many years. It was disappointing to see an international outlet label me as if all my accomplishments mean nothing,’ she said.
‘I am healthy and happy with the way I look, and to me that is all that matters.’
The article by the august British journal drew criticism from across the Arab world, with some decrying its ‘contemptuous tone’ and others questioning its poor analysis of Arab society.
Others accused it of being ‘racist’, ‘sexist’ and ‘shaming’ towards Arab women.
‘In reaction to the piece in The Economist, some readers voiced their incredulity at what they described as a double standard in the conversation about women’s bodies in the West versus in ‘other’ cultures,’ Rasha Al Aqeedi wrote in her piece for New Lines Magazine.
Taleb alleged that the image was used out of context, without her permission, and violated her freedom and privacy. She also claimed it had been photoshopped, according to the BBC
The article drew criticism from across the Arab world, with some decrying its ‘contemptuous tone’ and others questioning its poor analysis of Arab society. Others accused it of being ‘racist’, ‘sexist’ and ‘shaming’ towards Arab women
‘Plus-size artists such as Lizzo and models like Ashley Graham are celebrated for their role in making the body-positive movement mainstream. It is difficult to find an example of an internationally respected publication that has held up a photo of a ‘fat’ Western woman as a means of shaming her,’ she added.
The Arab News criticised its ‘outdated vision of Arab women being ‘mere sedentary housewives,’ although it acknowledges that there is a general consensus about the issue of female obesity in the MENA countries.
Taleb, a married mother of two, has been a popular and reassuring presence on Iraqi television since her breakthrough role in 1996 at the age of 16. Since then she has appeared in ads and music videos consistently over the past two decades.
Her Instagram following of 9 million gave her increased publicity and heft to fight back when she saw that her photo had been used in such a manner by the Economist.
In an interview with Saudi-funded al-Arabiya TV, she told them that The Economist ‘did not know that I’m a celebrity and a public figure. I can turn crises into gains.’
The Economist did not respond to requests for comment on the story.
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