Egyptian on quest to revamp image of beauty

Women in Egypt have been called ‘elephants, pickle barrels, and cows’ by random men, Bassant el-Qassem said

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After being called “fat” by a random man on the street, 22-year-old Bassant el-Qassem embarked on an artistic initiative in an effort to revamp Egyptian society’s perception of beauty.

Women in Egypt have been called “elephants, pickle barrels, and cows” by men who sped by in their cars, she told the Cairo Post.


The incident led Qassem to start her “Love your body… you are beautiful” Facebook page in September where she posts her own drawings of “overweight” women in clothes they may “shy away from wearing, even only for themselves.”

The page has attracted a lot of attention, as it boasts more than 25,000 likes so far.

egypt women bassant
egypt women bassant

A World Health Organization report found that more than 70 percent of Egyptian women are overweight, who Qassem believes have been vilified by popular culture and media.

Two matchmakers in Cairo said the two most reoccurring reasons behind a man’s refusal to see a woman after a first encounter are the bride being “overweight” or not light-skinned enough.

In one of her drawings, Qassem depicts a curvy woman dressed in tank top and shorts surrounded by quote bubbles of the comments she would regularly hear about her body.

“You’re a bus!”

“Close your mouth for a while”

“All your friends are married except for you!”

“Go blow up yourself,” are some of the phrases being hurled at the women in the drawing.

bassant egypt women facebook
bassant egypt women facebook

Naturally, Qassem’s portrayal of Egypt’s curvier women has attracted some criticism labeling the drawings as “too” sexual, to which she responded saying “art is not haram.”

Her paintings will be displayed at a gallery in one of Egypt’s busiest culture spots, the el-Sawy Cultural Wheel in November.

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