The Iraqi actress is suing The Economist for using her photo in an article about Arab women who are “fatter” than men

The Iraqi actress is suing The Economist for using her photo in an article about Arab women who are “fatter” than men

An Iraqi actress and talk show host has announced she is suing The Economist for using her photo to illustrate a story about women being fatter than men in the Arab world.

Enas Taleb, 42, a well-known television personality in Iraq, was outraged nine months ago when she saw a photo of herself during a performance at Iraq’s annual Babylon Cultural Festival under the headline about fat women.

The actress told New Lines Magazine that she is “determined to take legal action against The Economist over her cover story.”

“I demand compensation for the emotional, mental and social damage this incident has caused me,” she said after the article was published on July 28.

Taleb claimed the image was taken out of context without her permission and violated her freedom and privacy. She also claimed it was photoshopped, according to the BBC.

The article in question attempted to address why obesity is more common among women than men in the Middle East and North Africa by examining the cultural, social and economic factors at play.

Enas Taleb, 42, has said she is suing The Economist for using her photo to illustrate a story about how women are fatter than men in the Arab world

The article, published July 28, used Taleb's image under the headline,

The article, published July 28, used Taleb’s image under the headline, “Why women are fatter than men in the Arab world.”

Enas Taleb has been a well-known television personality in Iraq since she made her TV debut in 1996 at the age of 16

Enas Taleb has been a well-known television personality in Iraq since she made her TV debut in 1996 at the age of 16

Of the many possible reasons, it cites the sedentary lifestyles of Arab women, which are discouraged from leaving the home, and the high-carbohydrate diet and fatty foods that are more readily available to the poorer sections of the population.

Other possible reasons are the lack of women in the workforce and that Arab men also prefer the chubby women.

“Iraqis often cite Enas Taleb, an actress with voluptuous curves (pictured), as the ideal of beauty,” the article reads.

Taleb called the article an “insult to all Arab women” in general and to Iraqi women in particular.

“People have loved me for many years. It was disappointing to see an international outlet label me as if all my achievements meant nothing,” she said.

“I’m healthy and happy with the way I look and that’s all that matters to me.”

The article in the respected British magazine drew criticism from across the Arab world, with some denouncing its “contemptuous tone” and others questioning its poor analysis of Arab society.

Others accused her of being “racist,” “sexist,” and “shameful” of Arab women.

“In response to the article in The Economist, some readers expressed disbelief at what they described as double standards in talking about women’s bodies in the West versus ‘other’ cultures,” Rasha Al Aqeedi wrote in her article for New Lines magazine.

Taleb claimed the image was taken out of context without her permission and violated her freedom and privacy.  She also claimed it was photoshopped, according to the BBC

Taleb claimed the image was taken out of context without her permission and violated her freedom and privacy. She also claimed it was photoshopped, according to the BBC

Iraqi actress and television personality Enas Taleb, 42, Iraqi actress and television personality Enas Taleb, 42,

The article drew criticism from across the Arab world, with some criticizing its “contemptuous tone” and others questioning its poor analysis of Arab society. Others accused her of being “racist,” “sexist,” and “shameful” of Arab women

“Plus-size artists like Lizzo and models like Ashley Graham are being hailed for their role in mainstreaming the body positive movement. It’s difficult to find an example of an internationally respected publication holding up a photo of a ‘fat’ western woman to shame her,” she added.

The Arab News has criticized its “outdated vision that Arab women are just sedentary housewives,” while acknowledging that there is a general consensus on the problem of female obesity in MENA countries.

Taleb, a married mother of two, has been a popular and reassuring presence on Iraqi television since her breakthrough role in 1996 at the age of 16. Since then, she has appeared in commercials and music videos on and off for the past two decades.

Her Instagram following of 9 million gave her more attention and strength to fight back when she saw her photo had been used in this way by The Economist.

In an interview with the Saudi Arabia-funded al-Arabiya TV channel, she said that The Economist “didn’t know that I was a celebrity and a public figure. I can turn crises into profits.”

The Economist did not respond to requests for comment on the story.