Thursday, June 9, 2011

Saudi magazines: the censorship continues

A few weeks ago, I was in the middle of a propaganda/bias unit with my 10th graders. To illustrate the different propaganda techniques, they were assigned a mini-project: create a collage of magazine advertisements.

We had an in-class work day and I got a peek of an interesting side of Saudi culture: fashion magazines. Take a look.

As with all Arabic publications, the magazines open from the left to right, opposite of their English counterparts. You'll notice that the KSA Marie Claire has a significantly more modest cover than the USA version.

As can be expected, there are a lot of runway shots in this Marie Claire...

This month's issue is focusing on wedding dresses. Don't they look nice. Hold on. Take a closer look at the girl on the left...

My my! Her low-cut neckline is much too haram! Don't worry, though! The crafty editors at KSA Marie Claire have her covered. Literally. They've superimposed a more modest neckline over her exposed chest and shoulders!

See that yellow dress? It doesn't actually have cap sleeves! But in Saudi Arabia it does! It's not just wedding fashion that has to be monitored...



Here's a shot from the Dubai World Cup, a horse race in Dubai in March:

See the ladies in the white dresses? The nice print dress standing next to the green and purple numbers? Yeah, they're floozies and needed to be covered. Their chests and shoulders (and in the case of the green and purple dresses, their legs) have been hidden.

Oddly enough, there are some people whose bodies are permissible in this fine publication:


Want to look upon Beyonce's busty physique? Love Katherine Zeta Jones's toned arms? Want just a peek of Taylor Swift's v-neck-line? HAVE AT IT! American celebrities require no censorship, apparently. No photoshop here.

Very odd. It's not like when Saudi women wear this type of fashion they cover up with similar t-shirts under their strappy dresses. This magazine is targeted at women, who do not need to cover when they're in each other's company. So why are the models' bodies covered in the photos? And why aren't the celebrities? My girls didn't have an answer, really. They just said that's the way it is here.

How interesting!

Vicariously yours,




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