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Size Six The Western Women’s Harem Summary


Size Six The Western Women’s Harem Summary by Fatima Mernissi

Fatema Mernissi is a Moroccan sociologist and feminist writer, she is Islamic women and concerned about the religion. However, she in her thesis discuss the differences of culture, between the Western and Eastern Harems. By, giving examples of her personal experiences, she has told about the differences. She criticized Western men and women, she told that Moroccan women have to hide her face in her society, but better than Western women, who are more concerned about the weight and beauty. Western men, want their women to remain young, hide their ages and remain in size 6.

Criticism is there in the Western society, for a woman, who is not beautiful; she told her story in the thesis. Fatema Mernissi said in her thesis that “It was my unsuccessful attempt to buy a cotton skirt, in an American department store that I was told my hips were too large to fit into a size six”. As once she went in departmental stores, where she asked for the skirt of her size, however, she was told by the saleswoman that she has a large hip, so she could not fit in the size 6. Consequently, a cotton skirt is not of her size, she was told that she have to go to the specialty store to buy the skirt of her size. She got angry on this; the saleswoman gave her the harsh comments that if the company creates size 14 or 16 for her, then the company would go bankrupt.

Fatema Mernissi also noticed that the sales woman was of her age, but do not look like her, as he did a lot of makeup. Then Mernissi told her that Morocco does not care about beauty, the size does not matter there, and even she does not know her size. The sales woman was surprised and tells her that her beauty matters a lot, even if beauty fades, the higher ranks can go, however, there is the need to focus on the strict diet, so one figure should be maintained. Mernissi then compares the Western society with her society, where she never got bad comments about her figure; she noticed that Moroccan men do not care about beauty and the sizes, as she never heard negative comments. She explains about the “Chinese foot-binding ideal of beauty” that their men are more concerned about women feet, so men prefer foot binding. She relates the hunger of Western women, as men forced them to remain in size 4 or 6, to the concept of Chinese foot binding.

Western Harem and Eastern Harem

She realized that Eastern society or men are better than Western society or men because, Moroccan men always flattered her, by appreciating her hip size. She was always appreciated at her home. While, Western man, have set the standards of women beauty, they want women to look beautiful, that care a lot of their looks, they need ideal look, they women, who do not have ideal look is considered as ugly, she noticed that women want skinny figure there, they want to look like the fourteen years old women.

Her lines, “Here I am, transformed into a dinosaur”, explains about that for the first time she had realized that she is fat, or different from the English women, through which she did the analysis of both the cultures. In western culture, there is a more focus on the looks and they condemning maturity according to her, women of the east as compared with the west do not focus on their looks.

Personal Analysis

In my point of view, Mernissi did a good analysis of the Western culture, where people, especially women are more focus or pay attention to their looks, however, women in working are paid more money, who look more graceful or fashionable, in fashion industry they highly paid. If they do not look good, then they have to leave their jobs, their men also attracted to other women, if they do not find them attractive. In the western culture, men want their women to look like a girl of fourteen years old. Mernissi analysis is focused as she includes half part of the thesis in telling her own experience.

The analysis about the Western society should be appreciated, because there are many culture or society, which do not focus on women looks, to look good is better, one can take care of oneself if there is the sense of care to look good. Moreover, the sentences of Mernissi as “I come from a country, where there is no size for women clothes”, indicates about her new experience, in the Western society because the things can be new or different for her. She was against of the Western men and women because they have to stay hungry; her comparison about the societies is the kind of forcing her idea.

Through telling her personal story, she tells that Western men are worse than Muslim or Eastern men because they focus on starving, to remain in the size of 4 or 6 is much difficult than wearing a veil. In my point, every society has its own thinking and point of view about women and other things, we cannot criticize each other society, and however, the Mernissi felt the difference, so she talked about the facts. We believe that Muslim women wear the veil, and according to them, they feel comfortable in wearing a veil. Moreover, the criticism should be avoided about the societies. The criticism approach of the Mernissi is not appreciable as she did the comparison, by pointing out Western men and society, which focuses only on looks and restrict women.

Example of Current Social Issue

Many issues that are taking place in the Western societies, due to the preference are given to the beauty, the women of the modern age are becoming more possessive about their looks, and they spend more money on the looks, as compared to healthy diet. Many negative impacts are taking place in the society, as there is the new that more young girls are asking about the genital cosmetic surgery, they are getting psychologically upset the study has found, that due the preference is given to the beauty, the girl is becoming more conscious in the societies. They are dissatisfied from their look, they are asking about genital cosmetic because fashion and online pornography has increased in societies and people are into it (Davey).

In another new, What Women Want, a focus is on the today beauty that the world and women are becoming more conscious about their looks, as they do not want to grow older, they want to look young, as 63% of women said that looking beautiful is the bigger motivation for them. However, there are changes in the attitude, people perceptions are changing, but they are more focused on the skin quality. Women identified the side effects of using the injections, but they are still focused on their looks, they want to see the best version of themselves, by remained a center of attention (Allergan).

From both the news, we come to know that people are getting more conscious about their looks, as the Western societies are promoting the looks; women want to look younger because it is the demand of Western men, as thesis could be related to the reality. However, in the end, it could be said that all men are alike, as some of them concern about women look, some of them concern about women veil and others about small feet.

  • Allergan. What women want. 15 September 2016. 11 November 2016 <http://raconteur.net/lifestyle/what-women-want>.
  • Davey, Melissa. More young girls asking GPs about genital cosmetic surgery, study finds. 6 October 2016. 11 November 2016 <https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/oct/06/more-young-girls-asking-gp-genital-cosmetic-surgery-study-finds>.

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