NADINE ABDEL AZIZ wore this stunning classy look recently for a Glamorous night out.
Influencers from Amman to Dubai have adopted show-all, tell-all lives with a fevered passion, ushering in a new kind of celebrity culture in a region where women’s thoughts and wardrobe choices are often kept private. These are the women snapping their way to social change.
Nadine Abdel Aziz along with her sisters spun a reality show out of their outfit-of-the-day posts on Instagram, where they collectively have more a million followers;
Their lives are a seemingly endless stream of promoted products and party appearances, but they’re not just helping to shape the hottest looks of the season. They’re pushing the boundaries of acceptability by talking about everything from their love lives to body shaming to child marriage, inspiring other women in the region to chase different kinds of lives for themselves, too. “There are many people who are doing this for free things,” Alice Abdel Aziz says. “That’s not our goal. Our goal is to inspire and motivate people, and leave a mark.”
Perhaps none of the Middle Eastern influencers knows more about just how great social-media stardom can be than the Abdel Aziz sisters. They developed a taste for European fashion on summer trips to visit extended family in Romania (their mother is a Romanian homemaker; their father is a Lebanese doctor). In 2012, Alice, the second-oldest (the eldest Abdel Aziz sister, Diana, lives in Nigeria with her husband and children), started an Instagram account, @styleinbeirut, and began by posting photos of her and her younger sisters’ outfits each day. Soon, other fashion accounts began reposting the images, and the feed grew to more than half a million followers. The sisters attracted the attention of global brands. Their big break came in 2015, with the premiere of The Sisters, a reality show exhibiting their high-flying lives. The show drew comparisons to Keeping Up With the Kardashians and generated a slew of international press, but it was panned as boring (an animated spoof called The Cousins poked fun at the sisters’ banal conversations) and went off-air after one season.
The short run had little negative impact on the sisters’ success. Alice has since launched a line of sunscreen and tanning oil; Nadine has modeled for Guess and appeared on the Lebanese edition of Dancing With the Stars; and Farah has collaborated with Adidas. Social media is now the sisters’ full-time job, netting them a collective $500,000 last year. “We make good money,” Nadine says with a touch of pride.
Their Instagram posts reflect people living in a relatively free city, in a social class where they don’t have to contend with many of the cultural restrictions governing other women.
One humid evening, Nadine arrives at Métropole café in Beirut’s upscale Minet El Hosn neighborhood wearing Céline sunglasses and an off-the-shoulder dress, then seats herself at a sidewalk table. Soon, Farah walks up in sweats, a tube top, and Hermès logo flats; she looks around and notes how “everyone is in Mykonos these days.” Alice arrives late, takes in the heat, and sweeps everyone inside to a table with air-conditioning and a view. It’s clear she’s the leader of the group.
The sisters insist on ordering a round of desserts. “Pain perdu!” they exclaim, promising it’s the finest in Beirut. When it arrives, they halt their conversation to film the server drizzling caramel over the dish, while Alice narrates into her phone, saying, “This is the best part!” as she posts to Instagram. As they dig in, they bicker like, well, sisters. “I think people don’t know my romantic side,” Alice muses. “Yes, they do, because you post about it!” Nadine interjects. They talk about boys: “It’s very important for a guy to be supportive of his girlfriend’s job, because it’s not easy,” says Alice, whose husband manages the sisters. “We have to take pictures all the time and know how to deal with fame.” In any case, she says, men can’t really object, since “almost all girls have public Instagrams.” The ideal man is “smart,” Farah says. “We should be able to have a conversation at the table.”
Being outspoken about equality in romantic relationships is the kind of talk that has gotten the sisters noticed for more than fashion. Their Instagram posts—many snapped by their personal photographer—reflect people living in a relatively free city, in a social class where they don’t have to contend with many of the cultural restrictions governing other women. As a result, rather than play nice with critics, the sisters are empowered to talk back. Alice has had fiery words about body shaming for those who say she and her siblings are too skinny; in 2015, Farah was quick to correct an interviewer who asked if the sisters were “scared to be taken for another Lebanese bimbo.” “Lebanese women are not bimbos,” she said. “Just because women of our society like to dress up and take good care of themselves, people will rush to categorize them….Who ever said that a beautiful woman must be stupid?”
There are limitations—for example, they don’t collaborate with alcohol brands. “Most of our followers are from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, and we cannot promote something that is taboo for them. They’ll find it offensive,” Alice says. “You have to respect their lifestyle.” But that doesn’t stop them from posting selfies in bathrobes or hitting clubs in thigh-skimming dresses. “We live in a society that will criticize no matter what,” says Nadine. “We’re in the 21st century and the world is changing,” adds Alice. “Look at our ancestors, it wasn’t like they could go out wearing skirts. So the world is improving, and with all the social media and technology, we have to be different.”
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Source Marie Claire