I did a double take the other day when I read an interview of an Arab female social media influencer who claimed that the US reality TV star Kim Kardashian has been a ‘source of beauty inspiration among Middle Eastern women’.
She emphatically stated that “women here relate to Kim because they look like her. Who else do you have to look to other than Salma Hayek? We don’t really have that many women to look like in terms of celebrities.”
To back her claims, she insisted that Kardashian’s ethnic background being Armenian bestowed her with distinctive features and a curvy figure that resembles many of the Arab women who sport similar looks and figures.
I hate to disagree with this lady, even though she has a following of over 12 million people on her social media accounts. I flatly dismiss the idea that many Arab women look eagerly towards the Kardashians for their inspiration into anything meaningful or fruitful.
It is unfortunate that some feeble-minded people have been swept into the Kardashian frenzy which grew out of nothing more significant than a mother carefully cultivating her daughters into publicly displaying their bodies through a series of semi-nude poses.
‘Under the knife’ trend
This gave rise to the trend of ‘going under the knife’ as each of the siblings (including the mother) sought to perfect their looks under a plastic surgeon who eagerly filled them out or vacuumed them in their desired places. And with each successive surgery, you could be sure that a revealing picture posted on their social media was sure to follow. Seizing upon their growing fame, they branched out with a line of fashion clothes and accessories that has mushroomed into a major business venture.
This has been achieved through the shrewd brains of the mother who carefully manipulated her daughters into scenarios that received the most public attention, even if it meant baring their bodies (as was demonstrated on multiple occasions on social media).
In the region, some shallow-minded people may have been swept away by the goings on of the Kardashians, some of whom had paid a visit here at one time or another. If my memory serves me right, an outrageous amount was charged as fee for getting to see Kim Kardashian the last time she was in Dubai. The money could have easily put food on the table for an entire refugee family for a year in Myanmar.
But it is not only the emulating of make-up and clothes by some that worries me. It is throwing themselves under the knife of some shady doctors with dubious degrees with the hope of coming out looking like one of the Kardashians. Remember when Beirut was filled with women who went on the surgeon’s table to come out looking like Haifa Wehbe? The results for many were simply bizarre!
Clones of each other
Today, in much of Arab media, the female presenters and actresses are beginning to look like clones of each other, suggesting that they have spent time with the same doctor. Our Arab social media influencer who I chose not to name denies that such trends are too fake. She insists that “people here know beauty. They know how to do their lip liner, they know how to do their brows, and they know how to do their eyeliner. Some people tell me, “Oh don’t you think it’s a bit old-fashioned? And maybe it is, it might be over the top, but I love that.”
Fortunately, from what I have observed, Arab women, in general, are not so feeble-minded to be swept away by such influences. Yes, the media is a powerful tool and especially on the young, and if it continues to glorify the antics and body manipulations of people like the Kardashians to our youth, then we will end up with a similar situation where women in some countries are afraid to step out unless they have had their faces and bodies shaped up by a willing surgeon.
At the end of the day, I don’t believe that most of our women are that shallow.
Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena.