In the Middle East, just as here in the United States, society’s emphasis on outward appearance imposes much pressure on women and girls to “measure up.” Whether we like to admit it or not, appearance often DOES influence first impressions and some people DO judge others, at least partly, by their physical characteristics. Certainly, TV programs and commercials, movies, magazines and other media continue to foster this phenomenon.  So does the widespread use  of  social media. We’ve all heard the stories of public shaming on apps like Twitter and Facebook, carried out by young girls against one another.

The team at SAT-7 ARABIC recognizes that programs on the mainstream television channels in the Middle East also place a lot of emphasis on outward appearance and present a variety of preconceptions —curly-haired people who regard straight hair as beautiful or dark-skinned people who view fairness as beauty. Even children’s cartoons often set unrealistic standards of beauty for children, bringing on undue anxiety at a very young age.

A recent episode of “Needle and New Thread,” entitled, “Me and My Self Image,” set out to put the matter of appearance into a reasonable perspective by first pointing out the negatives: Yes, some people tend to approach others who are nice looking and neat but pass by those who appear less presentable; husbands want their wives to stay as beautiful as when they got engaged and so they sometimes grow apart after their wives’ bodies change because of giving birth to children. The program presenters ask, “How far should I care about my looks?”  “How can I love and accept myself?” and “How can mothers raise children who are confident and comfortable with their looks?”

Studio guests taking part in the live discussion included a mother of two, a photographer, and a lawyer. Many viewers called in, as well, and offered candid insight into the topic. Here are a few of their comments:

“It’s more important to teach children to accept and love themselves first rather than teach them to care about their external appearances. I wish my parents taught me that when I was younger. Now I am unable to love myself for who I am. I am affected by people’s comments. I must teach my kids in the future to love themselves as they are and accept their looks to be confident and happy.”  Rana from Minya, Egypt

“There’s a misconception that ugly girls are smarter than beautiful girls and this upsets me very much. God gave all of us brains to use. I don’t know why boys think that ugly girls are smarter and talk well but beautiful girls can’t.”  Rosy from Assiyut, Egypt

“People have stereotypes and this is a problem. For the thirty years of my life I haven’t been able to accept my body image. People cannot change themselves unless they want to do it and not out of peer pressure.”   Nardine from Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

Providing a safe place for girls and women to speak honestly about the sensitive topics that are on their hearts and minds is what “Needle and New Thread” does! ‘Not surprising, then, that an episode was devoted to the topic of self image. As Women for Middle East HOPE, we support straightforward discussions such as these, which boost the confidence and self esteem of SAT-7 viewers! And you can help to support this vital forum! Send your gift TODAY!