It's 2019 yet conventional beauty standards still exist, particularly when it comes to women; one quick scroll down your Instagram can confirm that.
Bloggers and influencers who adhere to such ideals seem to perpetuate the misconception that there exists an exclusive set of criteria that must be met in order for a woman to qualify as "beautiful." To combat such standards, many women have taken to social media to remind the world that "beauty" is not a monolithic term. Some Arab influencers have joined in on the movement, highlighting the importance of inclusivity and representation in the fashion and beauty industry.
Here are some inspirational Arab bloggers who are using their respective platforms to challenge toxic beauty ideals:
1. Shahad Salman
Inspired by Canadian model Winnie Harlow, the Saudi blogger and up-and-coming model embraces the skin condition known as vitiligo, a chronic pigmentation disease that causes colorless patches to develop on a person's body.
Salman and Harlow were recently featured in Vogue Arabia's June 2019 issue, where they insisted their condition "hasn't stopped them from achieving their dreams."
2. Ameni Esseibi
Widely lauded as the Arab world's first curvy model, Esseibi comes from French-Tunisian descent and has lived in Dubai for 15 years.
After struggling to find a modeling agency that welcomes curvy models, Esseibi got her big break in 2018 and finally signed with three local modeling agencies: Wilhelmina Dubai, Bareface, and MA Models. Soon after, she was asked to model at the Middle East launch of 11 Honoré, a size-inclusive online fashion boutique.
"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," she told Vogue Arabia in January.
"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," she added.
3. Abeer Sinder
When she noticed the lack of representation of dark-skinned women in Saudi Arabia, and the region in general, Sinder took it upon herself to become the first black health and beauty vlogger in the kingdom.
Speaking to The New Arab, Sinder revealed she has encountered anti-black racism prevalent in the kingdom. "I started to hear so many hateful, racist comments that made me hate myself for a while... I even considered skin bleaching," she explained.
The vlogger regularly speaks up about racism on her YouTube channel, where she expresses pride in her roots and encourages women to embrace their natural beauty. In a video that has garnered over one million views on the platform, Sinder noted that she often receives comments along the lines of "yes she's black, but she's beautiful," which she considers as backhanded compliments since they imply racist undertones.
4. Yulianna Yussef
Born in Beirut to a Lebanese father and a Ukrainian mother, Yussef grew up with Congenital Melanocytic Nevus (CMN), leading to a huge birthmark that covers most of her back and stretches around to her stomach, along with smaller marks over the rest of her body.
Yussef admits she used to be bullied because of her condition and was pressured into trying to hide it. However, as she grew older, she started feeling more confident in her own skin and decided to launch a travel, fitness, and lifestyle blog on Instagram.
5. Saint Manar
In response to a negative comment asking her to delete a photo because it showed some hair on her arms, Manar proudly posted close-up photos of her arms.
"It comes as natural as breathing. I want you to see it," she captioned her photo on Instagram.
6. Elige Abou Youness
The Lebanese blogger, copywriter, and social media manager had a unique approach to the movement against society's "set-in-stone beauty standards."
The English Literature graduate decided to wear a different costume five days a week throughout 2017, as a way to challenge societal norms and uptight beauty standards that often leave people feeling unable to fit in.
"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," she previously told StepFeed.
7. Dalal Al-Doub
While hijab used to be a foreign element in the world of beauty and fashion, hijabis have recently been taking center stage in the industry, particularly on social media.
Among the Arab world's prominent hijab-wearing bloggers is Kuwait's Dalal Al-Doub.
Her two million Instagram followers track her adventures as she travels the world and collaborates with world famous brands, proving that modesty and beauty are not mutually exclusive.