A decision by Egyptian state television authorities to temporarily suspend eight women anchors because of their weight has set tongues wagging on social media.

According to reports, the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) issued the directive this week, and gave the anchors a month to go on a diet and shed some weight before they can be allowed back on television.

Some rights advocates have criticised the suspension of the eight women, seen as an unfair attack on their rights, and dignity considering that there are no weight requirements stipulated in the union’s employment guidelines.

The directive has sparked a major uproar among social media users, and it has been criticised as an unacceptable form of body shaming.

Photo courtesy of artist Bassant el-Qassem official Facebook page

Photo courtesy of artist Bassant el-Qassem official Facebook page

Body shaming is a reality in Egypt and women bear the brunt of society’s restrictive standards of beauty. Writing on body shaming in Egypt, a blogger wrote on the unrealistic expectations of perfection that are imposed on women.

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Reem Noobo writes that for a woman to be accepted by society, “Her body better be thin, but not too thin. Curvy, but not too curvy. If she has a big bum and breasts, she gets mocked for having them either directly or by being made fun of”.

“It’s a never ending cycle of body shaming and the victims are usually young girls. Who get taught to hate their body and feel ashamed of it,” Noobo adds.

Bassant el-Qassem, an Egyptian artist  has been running a campaign, which encourages women to appreciate their bodies called ‘Love Yourself, You’re Beautiful’. The campaign forms part of el-Qassem’s battle against body shaming, harassment, and misogyny.

el-Qassem’s Facebook page, boasts over 40,000 followers, who share their lived and daily experiences on the issue.