The eight female employees at the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) were given a month to slim down to get an "appropriate appearance" before they could appear on air again, Swedish national broadcaster SVT reported citing local sources. Ironically, the ERTU is spearheaded by a female director, Safaa Hegazy, who is herself a former TV anchor.
Since weight is a tender issue for most women, it is only natural that the debatable decision sparked outrage among the affected TV anchors. Egypt's Channel 2 host Khadija Khattab reportedly said she wanted the viewers themselves to assess her appearance and judge for themselves whether she was really "fat." Another local broadcaster said the situation deeply upset the affected women's families.
Even though the decision triggered an anticipated outcry from Egyptian women's organizations, ERTU refused to make a U-turn and noted that all the women will keep their wages and benefits during the slimming period.
On Egyptian social media, many voiced their support for the suspended women, whereas others used all kinds of pejorative terms to describe overweight girls. Some Twitter users called ERTU's Director Safaa Hegazy a "strong woman" for making such a daring decision.
When the news reached Scandinavia, it predictably triggered negative feedback among the Nordic media, which do their best to project an air of tolerance and positivity and condemn every single injustice. Unsurprisingly, the outrage was shared in Nordic social media.
Many users expressed solidarity with the suspended TV anchors, noting that Swedish TV does not seem to be keen on aged or overweight presenters either. Others blamed unrealistic beauty standards, which appear to have become trending worldwide, reflecting the feminist stance, common among liberal Swedes. On a more hilarious note, many users suggested solving the problem with burkas, which is not an uncommon occurrence on Islamic TV channels. After the Muslim Brotherhood Sunni Islamist movement was overthrown in 2013, Egypt returned to a more secular government.
Ironically, Norwegian TV, which has painstakingly rejected the traditional requirements to uphold body positivity, has run into trouble for not being cautious enough. The realty program Top Model which openly declares that models need not be wafer thin, came recently under fire for describing participants wearing size 38 and 40 as "plus size," Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet reported.