By Jacob Bojesson
Eight female presenters at Egypt’s state-owned television channels have been suspended for one month because they are overweight.
The Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) didn’t hide the reason behind the suspensions of the female presenters. They told the women they have one month to get an “appropriate appearance” or else they will be fired.
The network is headed by Safaa Hegazy, a female, former news anchor whose job has been to rebrand ERTU to compete with international channels. The presenters will still receive full pay and benefits while they work on losing weight.
“This is the beginning of a plan to apply discipline and regulations designed to restore the beautiful image of all official TV stations,” ERTU Chairman Majdi Lasheen said, according to Gulf News.
The affected presenters said they feel humiliated by the ban. Khadija Khattab, a host on Egypt’s Channel 2, said she needs to watch tapes of herself to decide if she is “fat” and deserves to be suspended.
Egyptians are torn on whether or not the suspensions are justified. A women’s advocacy group in the country is upset with the reason behind the suspension, but would have supported it if it was because the women wear “excessive makeup.”
“Our problem is that we judge people by appearance rather than performance and content,” said Eman Beibers, chairwoman of the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women, according to The Independent. “I’d have appreciated the suspension decision if those presenters were suspended because they did their job badly or appeared with excessive make-up.”