The Womanhood Issue

Beauty Beyond the Binaries

These two models are changing the game.

By Georgie Bradley

Disabled model Faduma Farah on the runway in London. Image courtesy of Faduma Farah.

The intersectionality of beauty standards in the Arab world has come a long way. What was once a rigid one-dimensional view has expanded with more inclusivity and diversity. The weight of the expectation to be ‘perfect’ in appearance has been exhausting, but at the same time, it’s been the default expectation through years of a conditioned belief system. Times have changed in this department, however. A new beauty ideal has emerged in the face of a very visible and loud reckoning.

While systematic change and progress takes time, the conversation, for starters, is on the table, with many vocal people supporting it. Along the spectrum of beauty sit many kinds of women now – women who subvert the formerly entrenched stereotypes with amazing individuality. Where these women were once ousted, now they come as they are, in full force. 

Two significant women, who each occupy necessary space in the industry, are stopping at nothing to keep the conversation and calls to action coming. Faduma Farah, a disabled model and adaptive fashion designer, and Ameni Esseibi, the first curvy model of the Arab world, are making strong strides in the right direction while addressing all the wrongs in the industry. 

Ameni Esseibi is the Arab world’s first curvy model. Image courtesy of Ameni Esseibi.

For Dubai-raised Tunisian curvy model Esseibi, the industry language needs to change. Among terms such as ‘curvy’ or ‘plus sized model,’ she prefers the former as a point of principle (‘it has more attractive and sexy associations’), but she would rather toss the terms altogether. ‘At the end of the day, a model is a model, but unfortunately, we live in a world that likes labels. If you don’t call the smaller girl a “minus” size, why would you call the bigger girl a “plus” size?’ she asserts. She makes a very valid point. Why are bigger girls held to an unfair standard? 

This feature article is part of The Womanhood Issue. To continue reading this article digitally click here to buy a digital copy of the issue. To read the entirety of this article in print, click here or here to order a print copy of the issue.

The views of the authors and writers who contribute to Sekka, and the views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees and affiliates.