What It Is Like to Be One of the Middle East Plus-Size Women
Dilara Özcan, 20, Turkey: The tourists kept giving me mean and ugly looks.
“Last August was the first time that I go on a holiday with a body-positive mindset. I bought a new bikini, which actually fit me, and I was excited to wear it and feel the sun on my skin.
“I did get dirty looks and side eyes as I expected, but they were from the foreign tourists. The local people from the Turkish side from Cyprus couldn’t care less; everyone was so chill. On the other hand, the tourists kept giving me mean and ugly looks.. . . I tried really hard not to let those negative people change my body-positive mind. And I won! I kept smiling, swimming, tanning, and enjoying my time in Lapta, Cyprus. Negativity loses. I win!”
Aline Chirinian, 24, Lebanon: People feel like they have the right to comment on how you should be in this region.
“This woman comes up to me in the middle of my weight session (I have my earphones in) and tells me that my body is becoming nicer but that I should go on a diet. It’s not nice to be my size at my age. She then went on to tell me that I should eat ‘grilled chicken and vegetables’ to lose weight.
“Moral of the story, people will never be satisfied with the way you look.”
Hanane Fathallah, 33, Lebanon: Finding clothes that carry sizes above an 18 UK was like looking for hidden treasure.
“Finding clothes that carry sizes above an 18 UK was like looking for hidden treasure. They simply didn’t exist. It was only after I got married and moved [to Dubai] that I noticed some international brands surfacing in the market.”