March 4, 2010

Blonde Ambition

First I'm going to say that I don't want to generalize.

Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, Some Egyptians companies come off as such wannabes. Most stores, magazines billboards what have you, depict white people. Mostly blondes. Especially with children's stores. They always have a couple of Icelandic looking cherubs frolicking on store fronts and such. I went into several shops tonight and each one had the blonde kids.

Why is this?

Is it a kind of inward racism? An inferiority complex? Why do people here go gaga for blonde kids and and women? So many Egyptian advertisers use foreigners in their print ads, it makes me wonder. Why don't they reflect the Egyptian population and show wonderful Gypo kids and adults frolicking instead? Throw in some curly haired brown boys. Why the foreigner worship?

Just look at the site for our mall here. All, if not most of the pictures on their home page are of white people. That's just one example. If you've been anywhere in Egypt, you've surely seen more. I noticed a few posters in the Egypt Air office. A white, blonde stuardess tending to a white, blonde little girl. No offence to blondes here, It just feels so deliberate, in an Arab country/North Africa.

I realize there are Egyptian people that have blonde hair and light eyes and fair skin. I know it. But the vast majority of Egyptians are varying shades of brown, with dark hair and eyes. Arab looking. Not Anglo.

People, children notably, like to see people who look them in magazines and stores. I just wish that there was a more realistic reflection of Egyptian people shown. More like Mobinil and Melody's commercials. It seems only natural.

Don't get me started on the lack of hijabis in the media here either.


  1. That's such a shame and somewhat enraging as well. I think it goes back to colonialism and the idea that the lighter the skin, the more superior the race.

  2. Salaam Alaikum,

    Very sad and very true. It is self hatred. In fact the only time you're guaranteed to see a dark skinned/haired woman is in the 'before' part of a Fair and Lovely Advert.

  3. Actually, throw in some darker brown skinned children as well, since Arabs only took over 1200 years ago.

    But I completely understand your predicament.

    We're all bombarded with a 'western' notion of beauty. And when I say western, I mean white-blonde-blue-eyed and upper middle class.

    It's the aftereffects of colonization -.- Not controlling people physically, but mentally.

  4. yes, you're bringing up a sad but true reality of Egyptian society. Sadly, I've seen (sure you have, too) many Egyptians come out and say they don't like dark-skin or hope they're baby doesn't come out dark, or something along those lines.

  5. so true mona...but that's the world these days...the brown hair, skined ppl adds are so much more intriguing...b/c we just look more exotic. I think the blonde kids and parents just represent the "perfect family"....and it's sad to say but many ppl believe this. Next time u see one of those ads take ur crayons and colour the hair brown.....hahahahha.

  6. Anonymous8:28 AM

    I love tanned skin and dark features!! :)

  7. Stephanie, Yes, that's true. Also people here love to tell you they have a little Turkish in them.

    Safiyah Outlines, Ha, yea and she's always refused for the job because of it!.

    Modest Justice. Good point. I suppose it happens in the west sometimes.

    Umm Omar, Oh don't get me started. It's always oh, why did you let them tan? Ugh.

    Jujey, Yes, vandalism is the way. Ha.

    Anon, yay? Heh. JK.

  8. Asalam Alaykum Mona this is Noor UmmTalal :) INshAllah you are well, I miss talking with you...

    I agree with this post 100% I am in Saudi Arabia and I see the same ads everywhere. great post..

  9. Salam UmmTalal, How are you? Yea I suspect it's similar across the Middle East.

  10. That is really strange, there are so many different skin tones and hair colors and they're all beautiful.
    It's a shame they're not represented equally.

  11. Even those of us in Egypt who are "white" are not as white as any of those people! They must be from the North Pole.

    Perhaps it needs a kind of campaign to some stores and advertising agencies. One mall or shop could be targeted in the beginning, the phone calls and complaints and...?

  12. I think it is more annoying that they just use stock photos instead of real photos from campaigns designed by them. The lack of originality and creativity bugs me the most.

  13. Melissa, you're right. Egyptians are pretty diverse looks wise too.

    Marcia, good idea, I think that's a pro-active way to deal with it instead of complaining.

    JessyZ, Oh, I know what you mean, I've seen photos from known campaigns that were passed off as their own in magazines. Pathetic.

  14. What a great post. Tis the same here in UAE. You see it everywhere. I wish it was more like you said. They need to be proud how Allah has made them. They take pride in their country! Why not in the way most, Arabs look..In my case, Emiratie's.

  15. Texan in UAE, yep, I suppose the Emirates is a diverse place but still.

  16. Staying in an Asian country, it's good to know we have a balanced mix in our commercials. However, sometimes I wonder do these commercials [the ones heavily centered on a particular skin color/traits] induce any inferiority complex issues esp. among the kids.

  17. Hajar, I agree, it could effect kids/peoples self image.

  18. Mom of 212:53 AM

    Egyptian figures varies,my eldest son look like a latin boy and my youngest is a blond like my brother and my father.But I don't believe in this blonds superiority thing either..even countries with majority of blonds when they list their hotties you find Angelina jolie ,Catherine Zeta Jones,and Penelope Cruize on top of the list and those r definitely Brunettes..For myself ,I found those far more beautiful than Reese Witherspoon or Cameron Diaz.I remember when I was in the States years ago,both me and my hubby noticed the latina people there r far more beautiful than its not a rule..

    And most of the Egyptians more or less look like Latinas..You can find here many Salma hayek and JLO style..My eldest son is a copy cat of a Mexican boy who was photographed for a Mcdonalds ad to the extent that when we showed his grandpa this poster he said"when did you took this photo for him?!"..but latin people never put blonds to replace them cuz they know that even blonds find them beautiful..
    The lack of hijabis in our Media is another issue which is worth another blog post of its own!!

  19. Mom of 2, Yea I agree, Egyptians do share a lot of similarities with Latin people. I agree, I should write about the lack of hijabis!


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