According to a recent report by the World Health Organization, nine Middle Eastern countries rank highest in the obesity statistics among adults. It’s also a reality that most of the cities in Arabia are not pedestrian friendly and that the region loves to indulge in elaborate desserts. In the UAE, this has been noted by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, who last year launched the Dubai Fitness Challenge to motivate residents to take up 30 minutes of physical activity for 30 consecutive days.
Although obesity is a serious problem in the region, at the opposite pole, the fashion industry is still working to praise diverse body types, with some of the main fashion week organizations creating strict rules to avoid extremely slim models who can promote an unhealthy image.
These two realities inspired us to dedicate our July/August issue to celebrate health and various body shapes. By selecting model and body activist Ashley Graham and newcomer Paloma Elsesser for the summer cover, we hope to encourage you to live comfortably in your own skin, while being aware of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Besides celebrating curvaceous bodies, we also feature real women with different figures, from petite to tall or athletic. I hope their personal input on how fashion helped them make the most of their shapes will inspire you.
Personally, as a former gymnast now far from my competitive weight, I understand the struggle of so many women who don’t feel embraced by the fashion industry. I hope that, like we have seen at Alexander McQueen’s FW18 show – one of my favorites of the new season – where voluptuous model Betsy Teske sported a belted black and green leather dress, other designers will follow and make their collections friendlier to every body type. Diversity is a beautiful word that is very trendy nowadays, but hopefully it will soon be more than just a headline.
Originally printed in the July/August 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia.