Recently, a foreign news agency wrote a harsh article about Lebanon's own Karadashians – the Abdel Aziz sisters – which slammed their reality TV show for being "boring", after what it claimed were spiraling ratings.
But now, one, Farah, has decided to set the record straight. In a an interview with An Nahar she tackles the 'scandilicious' subjects (sex and body parts) and how women are portrayed by the Lebanese media just for their beauty.
In the recent article written by AFP, your show is said to be qualified as "boring" how do you respond to that?
Naturally, a well renowned press agency like AFP would not waste its time and pick up on a story had it been "boring". A show that still makes the news in every country around the world, which is a first to any Arabic program, surely must have something to it more than a personal opinion in it. And even though we do respect every person's opinion in our show, we know that even the people who criticize are fans in a way for they do watch our show too.
You and your sisters claim that your show's aim is to represent how smart Lebanese women are but many Lebanese reject that claim, why do you think so?
We never pretended to represent anyone else but ourselves and we do recognize the fact that some women in Lebanon are frustrated by the fact that they are stereotyped for being "Just Beautiful", we too fall often victims of the same stereotype. That is why when we agreed to do the show, we wanted to share with the audience things we long for and are passionate about beyond the borders of fashion and beauty (which in fact are a common interest to most Arab and Lebanese women), we wanted to make it a point to address our professional goals and show the world that just like the majority of women, we have to work hard towards success. Accomplishments to us as well are not handled on a silver platter.
AFP says you do not have the 'whiff of scandal' of the Kardashians because you are not able to talk about sex or body parts. Do you regret that?
Now here is what I like to call a schizophrenic attitude towards us. First the writer of the article accuses us of being boring and not representative of the majority of Lebanese women, and then they want us to be scandalicious! How does all this fall in line? We are who we are, and how people perceive us or most importantly, how people want us to be is a whole different issue. To be honest, we tend to live in a society which loves to criticize; actually we are no aliens and we do resemble many girls and women out there, whether people chose to see it or not. We are university graduates, so are 90% of Lebanese women! Yes we do care for the way we look. Doesn't 90% of Lebanese women? We love fashion but we also have many other passions that media turns the blind eye to just because mentioning them doesn't attract readers.
We did our best to prove that we deserve to be where we are professionally, Nadine has been a struggling model since the age of 15 , and I am trying my best to prove myself in the world of media where I would like to belong by long hours of studies with the best mentors in the field; Alice on the other hand crossed a long way as a social media influencer and that didn't happen to her overnight.
Regarding the scandalicious talks they want us to indulge in, now the way I see it, if we do that, then we would be strangers to our reality. I have never seen Arabic or Lebanese women discussing such matters in public and if they ever did it is just something that does not align with our family values and the way we were brought up, and we will not do it just to please those same people who say that we do not "represent".
Do you wish Middle Eastern Media would take more interest in your figure as the Western media has with Kim Kardashian?
So far, the Arabic press has been very supportive, same as the western media who has recognized the potentials in us. Regardless of any comparison, the international media has shown a lot of interest in us and in our show and our news still travel the world on the pages of different media outlets be it print, online or blogs and for that we are very grateful.
Farah, you are said to want to be a news anchor, is there any TV network you would prefer working for?
When it comes to embarking in the media world, I am very realistic; I tend to take this matter very seriously, and when I decided to pursue this career I wanted education and skills to be my driving force. This is why I made it a point to train with the best mentors in this field when I could have just relied on my beauty and made a go for it, but I know that this wouldn't have taken me a long way down that professional path. I believe in climbing the ladder one firm step at a time, and to set the record straight, I never said I wanted to be a NEWS anchor, it's just one of the many media myths about us. I would like to be in the entertainment field where I can see my character's reflection.
Have you done any screen tests?
I did and not all of them have had standing ovations, which only proves what I said before that nothing is handed down to us on a golden platter like the media likes to claim and that we have to work hard and prove ourselves.
Are you not scared to be taken for another Lebanese bimbo?
Why would I be scared if this is not the truth, if this is not the reflection I see in the mirror of a girl struggling every day to be a better person than the one she was yesterday on the many levels? And to adjust your question, Lebanese women are not "bimbos"... you see this is also another stereotype, just because women of our society like to dress up and take good care of themselves, people will rush to categorize them and look away from their other layers. Who ever said that a beautiful woman must be stupid, and that a less beautiful one is a smarter one?! People need to dig deep and see beyond the looks and stop jumping so fast to judgments.
Lastly, your Youtube views have gone from 242,000 to 18,000, do you think there is a risk of you stopping the show altogether?
I believe these numbers should be corrected as I think that you must have gotten them at an early stage of an episode upload on YouTube. If you go to our YouTube channel and look at The Sisters weekly episodes, not one has a viewership below 80, 000. On another note, viewership on TV is on the rise and we do have a lot of non-Arabic speaker people who constantly write us and the channel demanding subtitles.
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