Egypt newscasters face weighty issue

CAIRO — Unlike their American counterparts, there’s nothing anorexic-looking about Egyptian femme TV presenters and newsreaders.

On the contrary: Egypt’s overweight TV personalities have been warned to slim down or risk being booted off the air.

The directive came from Soheir Atribi, chairwoman of Egypt’s state-run TV sector. Apparently it was prompted by a number of complaints by viewers who contend that the appearance of some of the obese onscreen women provoked laughter and derisive remarks.

In a related directive, femme TV presenters were also warned to stop wearing skin-hugging slacks and other such apparel on camera — apparently because this sort of attire might offend some viewers’ religious or moral sensitivities.

The weight issue has become quite prominent. A Cairo newspaper reported recently that one talkshow hostess had become so overweight that the cameras had to film her from a distance and at oblique angles, lest she fill up the screen.

The slim and trim Atribi reportedly warned that women tipping the scales at more than 175 pounds would be replaced with svelte presenters, unless they brought their weight down. It was unclear whether TV studios proposed to install scales to determine the weight eligibility of the on-screen talent.

As for the women under threat of off-screen anonymity, some of them have reportedly warned they might test the directive in court if the “fatist” decree is carried out.

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