• Last month, The Economist published a story on why Arab women were fatter than Arab men. 
  • The article featured a photo of Iraqi actress Enas Taleb. 
  • Taleb is now suing the outlet for defamation. 

An Iraqi actress whose photo was used to accompany an Economist story on "fat" Arab women is suing the outlet, The Associated Press reported. 

Enas Taleb,42, told the AP that the headline "Why women are fatter than men in the Arab world," felt like a "spiteful punchline." She's suing for defamation. 

"They used my photo in this context in a hurtful, negative way," she told The AP. "I am against using one's body shape to determine the value of a human being."

The BBC reported that Taleb said the picture was used out of context and without her permission. Taleb also claimed the photo which was taken at the Babylon International Festival in October 2021 had been photoshopped,  per the BBC. 

The Economist article, which ran last month, tried to explain the obesity gap between men and women in the Middle East but has stirred up conversations about body shaming. 

"If there's a student who goes to school and hears mean comments and students bullying her for being fat, how would she feel?" Taleb told The Associated Press from Baghdad. "This article is an insult not only to me but a violation of the rights of all Iraqi and Arab women."

The Economist's story said that one of the reasons for obesity among Arab women is due to poverty and societal restrictions that keep women at home. 

The London School of Economics has found an obesity paradox between men and women in the Middle East, however, The AP reported that despite more body-positivity movements in the West, fat shaming is still prevalent throughout the Middle East. 

"Kuwaitis are plus-sized, Saudis are plus-sized. But people are ashamed. They weren't taught to be confident in this judgmental society," Ameni Esseibi, the first plus-size model in the region told The AP. "We always want to be skinny, to look good, to get married to the most powerful guy."

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