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Ameni Esseibi Highlights the Importance of Body Positivity and Self-Love During This Pandemic

amina esseibi, body positivity

“Your weight may change, but it doesn’t impact your worth,” says Ameni Esseibi, the Arab world’s first curvy model, in response to “bodyphobic” humor taking over the Internet during the coronavirus pandemic. Photographed by Steffie Neve

While the world combats one of the biggest public health crises of this generation, access to mental healthcare may be taking a backseat even though many are facing a considerable amount of fear and anxiety over this unprecedented pandemic and the unknown future that awaits us. With social distancing, work from home, and potentially even full lockdown limiting personal interactions and outside activity, people all over the world have now also begun worrying about gaining weight, or the “Quarantine 15”, amongst the many other stressors they are trying to overcome. Yet, Ameni Esseibi won’t stand for it. Lauded as the Arab world’s first curvy model, Esseibi is no stranger to the importance of self-acceptance, love, and confidence.

Often vocal about promoting body positivity in the region, the Tunisian-born model is now challenging all of us to reframe our perspective on weight, especially during Covid-19 where extended periods of isolation may be heightening our inner insecurities and taking a drastic toll on our mental health. “My thoughts on this subject is that your weight may change, but it doesn’t impact your worth,” says Esseibi. “Sometimes we overthink so much that it gets to us, especially now. Health is not described by a number on the scale or by a body type. You can be big and healthy and the number on your scale is just a number.”

Also Read: Ameni Esseibi On What It Takes to Be the First Arab Curvy Model

While some on the Internet are turning to humor to make light of the situation and posting viral memes about excessive snacking, lack of exercise, and postponing a summer body, Esseibi argues this does more harm than good and can, in fact, be detrimental to those who are already struggling in this tumultuous time. “I’ve been seeing a lot of memes on the Internet about everyone worrying about their weight and how no one will have a summer body this year—it’s all about personality,” explains Esseibi. “Dark humor is a way so many of us survive difficult times and it may be a joke to some of us, but it actually affects some people. This body-phobic humor is dangerous. It whispers to us lies wrapped in fear: If we gain weight, we will be failures—not worthy, not accepted in society, and not pretty, which is totally wrong. What matters is our personality, how we have to support each other during these hard times, share positivity, and not worry about our looks. What matters, and especially now, is our kindness, generosity, love, positive energy, and mental strength.”

Vogue Arabia spoke further to Esseibi about why people shouldn’t be cosmetically concerned about their weight while in quarantine and the ways to easily practice some much-needed TLC for our bodies while in this government-enforced me time.

amina esseibi, body positivity

“Self-care is super important during this time because we have to remind ourselves of our worth, who we are, and what we stand for,” says Esseibi. Photographed by Steffie Neve

How important is self-care to you during this time, and why?

Self-care is super important during this time because we have to remind ourselves of our worth, who we are, and what we stand for as well as remind ourselves of the things we love and to stay away from fear, panic, and negativity. We don’t want to damage our mental health during the quarantine.

What would you say to someone who is afraid of gaining weight while they are quarantined?

Don’t be afraid; it’s just a number. It doesn’t describe or determine who you are and your worth. Focus more on fixing your insecurities and increasing your confidence rather than destroying it by focusing on your weight, which doesn’t mean anything at this point. I always say as long as you’re healthy, your weight and body type are meaningless.

What are some of the ways of practicing self-love that you would recommend at this time?

Really taking time for yourself because our day-to-day life is so packed that we don’t have time to think about these things. Talk to yourself every day in front of the mirror, remind yourself of your strength, beauty, independence, confidence, humor—whatever makes you feel better about yourself. Also, take this time to overcome your insecurities. Start with writing down your insecurities, why these things bother you, and how can you improve them, and then remind yourself of all the achievements you have accomplished in your life. Take this time to just really step back and relax a bit—humanity has paused for a reason. Let’s count our blessings and take it slow.

Photography: Steffie Neve
Makeup: Laure Sejeans 

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