Down to one pair of jeans, I was forced against my better judgment to go shopping for some new clothes in Beirut. Thus came the dreaded first-and-last-time shopping experience as a female, who let’s say, is a little more fluffy than your average.

“Hi. Do you carry my size here?” The saleswoman takes a look at me. Twice. Her eyes marking my body from top to bottom. “La2 habibi…LA2!” she said, in the most de-humanizing way possible.

It’s easy to blame the media. Many say the import of Western culture into Lebanon has negatively affected the way we perceive ourselves and others in Lebanon. That thin is in and fluffy is out. But that’s too easy.

I remember having morning coffee with my elders during our family summer vacations in Lebanon. As a child, I recounted over and over again how many times I had been ridiculed for my weight. I was only seven years old. What business do you have discussing a s-e-v-e-n year old’s body?

Yes, I get it. Here in Lebanon, discussing a person’s weight is akin to any other introductory conversation, such as the weather or the news. But when the focus on image starts at such a young age, it can only produce detrimental effects on the person’s mental health. See, just because “weight talk” has become normalized in Lebanese society still doesn’t falsify what it is: ridicule. It’s not any less cruel in my book, and it certainly won’t break off the affects of such a no-win situation in which you are made to feel weak, and in turn, endure pain and suffering.

Want to train your child to attain negative thought patterns and become insanely tormented with his or her appearance? The formula is a piece of cake [not literally; that might pack on a couple pounds]: you gotta get ‘em while they’re young! Take Beirut’s salons, for example, the target market audience? Children. Apparently, after noticing that many of the mothers were taking their daughters to high-end beauty salons, the owner of a children’s salon saw an opportunity. “Sometimes I get a group of four or five girls who reserve the spa room for two hours and they just pamper themselves with make-up, manicures, facials, she said.

And the results? A fear-based dissatisfaction with the self: A 2004 study conducted at the American University of Beirut found that out of 954 students interviewed, only 6.1 percent were overweight, yet 52.9 percent wanted to lose weight and 61 percent aspired to be thinner, reported NOW News.

So, continue criticizing the young until they’re old enough to receive therapy – that is, cosmetic surgery. Punctuate the importance of appearance; tell your son or daughter how beautiful he or she is compared to his or her plain-looking classmates. Emphasize the importance of the beauty ideal so that your child grows up believing that’s the real stuff that matters. Go on. You’re only affecting generations upon generations, and in turn, a large portion of Lebanese, who are absorbed and drowning in their cosmetic beauty remedies: plumping up their lips, erasing away their facial wrinkles, and having a butt so bubbly that even Cristiano Ronaldo’s football looks flat.

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