Egypt’s State Broadcaster Suspends Eight Female TV Presenters, Gives Them A Month To Lose Weight

August 18, 2016  |  

Courtesy of Channel 2: Khadija Khattab

Courtesy of Channel 2: Khadija Khattab

According to the BBC, women’s rights groups in Egypt are upset over the fact that the Egyptian Radio and Television Union’s female director, Egyptian Broadcaster Safaa Hegazy, has suspended eight women TV presenters in the hopes that they will slim down before returning to the small screen.

Hegazy, a former TV anchor for Egypt state, reportedly gave the eight women one month to lose weight and work towards an “appropriate appearance” if they wish to get back in front of the camera. One of the presenters, Khadija Khattab of Egypt’s Channel 2 told an al-Watan newspaper that the move is “just an attempt to get rid of the successful [presenters] and retain others who present programmes that have no strong content.” She said that she would prefer for viewers of her show watch and come to a conclusion on their own, not through Hegazy’s actions, of whether or not her size is a distraction and she needs to be removed from the air. According to the BBC, another presenter said she was upset that the situation wasn’t handled internally.

The women will be put on leave with pay and their benefits intact, but the Women’s Center for Guidance and Legal Awareness is speaking out against the ERTU. They call the decision to remove the broadcasters one that is both a violation of the constitution, and a violation of women in Egypt, specifically, “a form of violence.”

Different voices in media across Egypt are going back and forth about the fairness of such suspensions. And while some aren’t against the move, some have defended the broadcasters, with a few publicly asking what an ideal weight should be for a woman on TV, and others saying there needs to be a focus on bettering the content of the shows the presenters work for, instead of worrying about their appearance.

Seriously though, what is an “appropriate appearance”? It’s all subjective. And while going after larger Egyptian TV personalities sounds egregious enough, we here in the United States have probably heard quite a few stories of broadcasters in our country who were told their hair isn’t appropriate and were fired for defending their style. Yes, I get the idea that people know they’re going into a business where your outward appearance is important. Still, we shouldn’t ask or need TV broadcasters to look like something out of a J.Crew catalog in order for them to be able to tell us the latest sad new story or whether or not we should step outside of the house with an umbrella.

What do you think of the decision to push the women to lose weight and giving them a month to do it by taking them off of the air? How important is a presenter’s appearance to you?

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