How Jackie Chamoun’s Breasts “Ruined” Lebanon’s Flawless Reputation

We are a country with a body image. Literally.

The Lebanese candidate to the skiing segment of the Olympics, Jackie Chamoun, is making the rounds lately due to a nude photo shoot that she underwent last year. The reason her pictures are making the round this year is simply due to her becoming known subsequently to her moderate national exposure post Olympics fever.

Naturally, in pure Lebanese fashion, what Jackie Chamoun did is being turned into a national scandal, of her disgracing our country by baring her breasts to the ice cold of Faraya and the lens of a foreign photographer.

This is the video in question:

Are breasts only scandalous when they’re Lebanese?

Jackie Chamoun isn’t the first nor will she be the last Lebanese woman to take off her clothes for a camera lens. A few months ago, a reputable website in the country turned pictures of a woman named Rasha Kahil, taken back in 2008, into a matter of national importance. How dare she reveal her private parts to the entire world? Does she have no shame? Doesn’t she have in the perfect reputation of her country in mind while doing such heinous acts?

When it comes to sex, we have a long way to go. Perhaps things are slowly changing. But there’s more to Lebanon than Beirut and its surroundings.

Why is it that Lebanese T&A is highly susceptible of immediately becoming a scandal, of being extrapolated to a figurative matter of national identity, of becoming a national crisis? Aren’t they just breasts?

Is it because there’s a fear that such behavior would somehow diffuse off of a computer screen? Is it because of a fear that what those women do will somehow ruin the minds of those who don’t do similarly? Or is it because what those women do does not fit with some people’s moral code of choice?

Why is this country so in love with gossip that things are very rarely seen as they are? Why do we over-sensationalize meaningless things when we have so many other things that have inborn sensationalism?

I can think of so many things that warrant are true scandals about this country, that warrant a discussion much, much more than Jackie Chamou’s breasts. At the top of my head, I can think of the several explosions that have taken place within the past couple of months alone and the fact that they’ve become second nature to life in this place. I can think of a TV station that figured instagramming the body parts of a suicide bomber was a good idea. I can think of the fact that we haven’t had a decently functioning government for the past year and nor will we have one for the next year, it seems. I can think of the fact that presidential elections are literally in 3 months but we’re still waiting for the savior president’s name to be “inspired” by neighboring countries. I can think of the fact that going to a mall requires you to go through more checkpoint than an airport’s border control. I can even think of the graffiti artist that was arrested only two days ago by some unknown party’s henchmen because of him being at the “wrong” place. I can even think of the many pictures of the living conditions of some Lebanese in the North that should be scandalous.

I just need to take a look around and open my eyes to the realization that I am living in a disintegrating country to ask myself the following question: what spotless reputation is Jackie Chamoun “ruining” and why is there outrage that the Lebanese Olympic committee should have known of her past behavior?

I’m not saying that what Jackie or Racha or any other unknown Lebanese woman whose pictures have yet to surface did is something that all women should do. I’m not saying that women whose choice of attire or of lifestyle is more conservative are backward thinking and detrimental to the cause of their gender. It’s far from the case. This isn’t about the cliche debate that naturally finds its way to pop up in such settings: veils versus nudity. How about neither?

What this is actually about is the importance and privacy of personal beliefs and how this country views your private beliefs as entirely up for grabs. It’s about how those personal beliefs, whether they fit with yours or not, are not a matter of national importance nor are they something that should be sensationalized into a scandal when there are so many other things for us to get angry about. What this is about is, perhaps, about the importance of not being insecure in your choices – whatever those choices may be, assuming they’re within a legal context obviously – and not be ashamed of them in any way whatsoever.

Jackie Chamoun is a beautiful and sexy woman who did absolutely nothing wrong. It’s sad that she will end up being named and shamed for something as silly as what she did. It’s sad that a few simple and sexy photographs will overshadow her professional skiing skills. It’s sad that some people’s well-rooted insecurities will overshadow and overcomplicate her choice.

What’s even sadder is that a country in as deep a shithole as Lebanon gets up in a fit about all the wrong things when there are so many things to get up in a fit about while no one simply does. But I guess living in a lala land where we have the prerogative of turning some pictures into a scandal is better than waking up to this reality. It’s much easier to believe, it seems, that Jackie Chamoun’s breasts are singlehandedly ruining Lebanon’s spotless and flawless reputation.

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The Cedars & North Lebanon’s Mountains

I finally had enough time on my hand to visit one of my favorite places in Lebanon: the Cedar mountains. They are probably the most underrated locations in the country and are nowhere near as visited as they should be because, quite frankly, very few places in this country can rival them in sheer landscape beauty.

Using my iPhone 5’s panorama feature, I was able to capture what I believe are pretty decent shots of the drive up to the mountains, the town of Becharre with its snowy mountainous backdrop, the Cedar Mountains themselves and part of the Kadisha Valley known as Qozhaya on the way back.

These locations may be far from Beirut – about 130 km – but they’re worth every single minute spent driving and every dollar spent in gas. I think I’m lucky that I live nearby and only need about 30 minutes to get there.

The slopes are superior to those of Mzaar/Sectarian-Kfardebyan and while they are less taken care of, they’re much cheaper and you will be able to get your full money’s worth out of them. The people are a whole lot friendlier as well.

So while many Lebanese are overjoyed that some international publication (click here) has chosen Beirut as the #1 city destination of the region – as if that’s a very hard thing to pull off – I felt like I ought to highlight something in Lebanon that is so ahead any form of “best of” competition in this region that it’s #1 always.

North Lebanon Mountains Cedars - 4

The Mountains from the village of Qnat

 

 

North Lebanon Mountains Cedars 13

The view from Hadath el Jebbeh

North Lebanon Mountains Becharre Cedars

Becharre (on the right) with its mountains behind it

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The drive up to the Cedar Mountains

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Some of Lebanon’s Cedars – not the main forest, obviously

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Panoramic view of part of the mountains

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Part of the Cedar forest

North Lebanon Mountains Cedars Qozhaya

The drive to Qozhaya

 

North Lebanon Mountains Qozhaya Annoubin Kadisha

The view from St. Anthony of Qozhaya convent (on the left) – part of the Kadisha Valley



 

 

 

The Christian Extremism of Kfardebian

I don’t like Ahmad el Assir. I’m sure this goes to at least 90% of the Lebanese population as well. We all know he’s an extremist. We all know his mentality is rotten. We all know his ideology is something that very few people share. But when Ahmad el Assir wants to go ski, it’s sure as hell his right to go ski. Wherever he wants. Whenever he wants. However he wants. With whoever he wants.

As long as it’s all legal of course. And even that is a gray area because, as you know, law and Lebanon are oil and water. Of course, Al Assir praying at this very moment in the square of the town that didn’t want to host him is not only an act of provocation, it’s something that reflects how mentally deranged and sickening this man is.

I’d like to see the Lebanese army try to stop the prayers though. Oh wait.

A bunch of God-fearing Christians of Kfardebian, in the heart of the Maronite heartland of Keserwan, decided that Ahmad el Assir hitting their slopes with a few of his supporters was too much for them to handle. So they decided to cut him off instead and go in a stand off with the army for hours.

Al Assir wasn’t the first “politician” – or whatever he is – to go ski in Mzaar. But he sure got preferential treatment. Was it that beard?

Two people were wounded before Assir was able to go about his skiing attempt. Welcome to Lebanon – where someone going skiing can turn into a country ordeal. Nothing is too out of the box for us, right?

What those righteous Christians of Kfardebian failed to realize, however, is that they are even worse than Ahmad el Assir in their disgusting mentality. Al Assir is a Muslim extremist sure. But they’re the exact same thing, with a different religion. Perhaps with no beard and a few less wives.

And you know who’s as bad as those Christian extremists? Those who are turning them into heroes for doing what they did. Those who are proud of what those Christians did. Those who believe that what those Christians did is somehow us telling everyone that we won’t be trampled on.

Lebanese Christians talk and talk about how extremism is rising among Muslims. All of them seem not to know how to look in the mirror and see how their own extremism is on an exponential rise these days. They have probably never read the Bible in its entirety. They sure as hell can’t recite verses out of the Bible. But they can perfectly orchestrate dramatic brouhahas out of their Christianity.

Jesus Christ would not approve. But what do I know. We have our existence to maintain in this country… one ski slope at a time.

 

Nature’s Christmas Gift to Lebanon: the Slopes Will Open Next Week

Skiing and snowboarding lovers rejoice. Your beloved slopes that you’ve missed will open soon after Christmas, just in time for your holidays.

The amount of snow on the slopes is already decent though subpar for this time of the year. However, this will change in a few days. A huge storm is coming. It will start this Wednesday and extend till Christmas Day. Rainfall is expected to be big and snowfall altitude levels will dip.
Some places will have a white Christmas this year.

The best news? December 26th is when the storm ends and you’ll be able to hit the slopes to practice your favorite winter hobby.

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