Dareen Barbar: Empowered Women Empower Other Women

  • Publish date: Monday، 08 March 2021
Dareen Barbar: Empowered Women Empower Other Women

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we wanted to get to know the amazing Dareen Barbar, a true empowering woman that overcame all obstacles.

Dareen, and athlete and a motivational speak from Lebanon, lost her leg due to bone cancer when she was 15 years old and had a bad injury in her mid-thirties, which made her change her whole life around. She started working out and lost impressive 25 kgs in a year.

She was the first Arab Amputee to take part in the famous World Beauty Fitness and Fashion show and since then owns the title of the WBFF transformation winner.

On this special day, we shed the light Dareen the daughter, the sister, the wife, and the mother of two children.

Dareen Barbar: Empowered Women Empower Other Women 

Is Womens Day an important, meaningful day for you?

Yes, of course, there should be a day where we celebrate women, especially now in times like these where women are more vocal and express themselves more.” Dareen already said in an interview back in 2018 that she can feel a change towards topics related to womens rights and equality. Through the years women have been shut down, have been given limited roles in society.” Now it is the time to rise and shine and to free ourselves from being stereotyped”, added Dareen. She explains that women always had to live up to certain expectations that are limiting women themselves and what they could and would do. You can be so much more than just a mother or a wife or what society and social media try to make you believe. According to Dareen, Women should live their true personality and love themselves”.

Do you think the body positivity and female equality movement are still going on? Is it even louder now and gets more attention than a few years back?

Dareen thinks that more and more people become aware of finding their way, starting their journey, and embracing it, is more important than just following others. Light has been shed on certain topics and industries like modeling to avoid unhealthy role models and protect the younger generation from certain life expectations that can have severe consequences. Once again she points out how important self-love is and that everyone has an individual path and everyone has different talents and abilities in life. The significance of social media seems to be a boon and bane at the same time. On the one hand, it is amazing that everyone has the chance to be vocal, to show themselves, to show their talents and their creativity". Many celebrities, companies, and successful people use their influence as a chance to give great input to have a positive impact on their followers attitudes, mindsets, and lifestyles. On the other hand, being that present and tangibly creates room for offensives and the social platforms also give people driven by negativity the possibility to express themselves. But, "if you look into it and follow the right people, there are people that are making a change in the world,” assured Dareen.

She finds her inspiration in biographies and books that tell a story about someone overcoming difficulties in life and still or maybe especially because of that become successful. Every person has their own story and was exposed to certain pain that spurt them and pushed them to change the way they think and to rebel their circumstances, and be born again to fight and to prove themselves. I look up to these people.” One of them is Oprah Winfrey, whose story Dareen admires because she has been a fan since her early teenage years. Reading stories like that, getting to know other peoples struggles, and how they managed to get up again after they fell gives her hope and the motivation to not give up, Difficulties and challenges are there for you to grow. They are there for you to step out of your comfort zone and discover the new person you can become. If you dont challenge yourself, you will never know what you are truly capable of”. 

What about your daughter, is she already affected by certain stereotypes towards womens bodies? How do you handle that?

Unfortunately, the topic has an impact even on very young girls like Dareens daughter, who is only eight years old. She used to stand in front of the mirror asking me Mommy how do I look? Do I look thin?and I replied to her, No, you look healthy. It is not about being thin or fat, it is about being healthy.” When she does not want her daughter to eat certain foods she explains it to her in a way she understands that will affect her health and her ability to move and be active. She shouldnt look at herself and say, I want to look thinno, she should say that she wants to be healthy, she wants to be active and feel good.” Dareen also adds that she is careful with the words and the languages she uses to avoid body shaming and triggering insecurities at all costs. She only uses words like healthy, fit and active because that should be the goal, that should be the way you want to feel. The number on the scale does not define your value”, she points out. 

Talking about beauty itself and how different people can look like Dareen told us that her daughter once asked her why her leg does not look the same as hers. As her mother, she tries to teach her daughter self-love and confidence. Its not like she doesnt find me beautiful. She has this empathy and she wants me to be like her. We have these instincts, we want perfection.” But what is perfection? What is normal? We see people that are different than us, that have a disability, and immediately feel sorry for them or think that they are not happy but that is not the case. Exactly”, Dareen answers, Once friends of my kids saw me with them and later on reached out to them saying, Oh, your mum only has one leg, were sorrybut without hesitation or shame, my children answered, that Im normal and I can do anything. It is about the way you live your life. If you love yourself and you have confidence, it will show on the outside. Beauty comes from the inside and shows on the outside. The way you behave, or the way you talk to people, there are a lot of things that make you beautiful, it is not about the way you look.”

Do you think on your way, after you lost your leg and on your weight loss journey, you faced challenges a man would not have to overcome?

According to Dareen women have to comply with a lot of obligations because of the society we live in. Her fear regarding herself being a woman with a disability was related to marriage. There was a time she thought about societys opinion in a way, that people will think, that no one is going to date or marry her. People still believe you have to get married at a certain age. When it comes to people with a disability and marriage its different because they dont decide to choose their partner, they wait for their partner to come.” Nevertheless, Dareen did not let that affect herself. She got to know her husband, they fell in love, married, and got two wonderful children. She lived a normal life, she said, but society did not expect this. I grew up with my family who supported me and gave me the confidence and let me live a normal life. My mum always pushed me to go to school even if I wasnt feeling it. She didnt give me the comfort of surrendering to my feelings and giving up”, Dareen states. There have been a lot of moments where she wanted to give up but her family always gave her strength. By the time she grew up and became an independent woman, she never thought of herself as a woman lacking something that does not make her worthy enough of love and marriage, regardless of what society thinks.

 “But if I was a man, to answer the question, it would have also been difficult but I think men have been given more freedom to take decisions in the world”, she says, Although their lives are difficult as well. I admit that because of the responsibility they need to carry. Men are expected to be the providers to their family when they get married and only they should provide, which is also a wrong way of thinking. Two people should get married and work together, work for their family. We are equal. My husband and I cooperate in the house, he helps me a lot and I help him. We help each other because we are partners at the end of the day. We are building a family. Its like a company. If you work in a company and they dont work as a team it will collapse. They wont have success.”

Dareen Barbar: Empowered Women Empower Other Women

What do you think can we as women do to empower ourselves and to empower other women more?

I believe women should educate themselves. Then they have the confidence to face anything in the world”, Dareen replied. She addressed how important education is to give women the chance to do whatever they want to do in their life and highlighted, that especially if you become a mother there is a new generation to be taught, that you become responsible for.

What are your plans for the future?

Regarding her current life situation and her goals for the future, Dareen told us about her profession as a personal trainer and life coach. She is looking forward to helping people change their lives, work with them and support them from the beginning on, side by side. It makes me happy. It always feels more satisfying to give than to take. So when you change a persons life and a persons perspective it makes me happy and I wanna pass this message on to people personally, how they can love themselves, how they can believe in themselves again, and how to have hope in the future. Transforming lives inside out.”

Do you have clients with a disability or are there clients or people with a disability reaching out to you?

Yes, I train a lot of people with a disability and a lot of normal people, without a disability. But for me disability is not something physical, its in the mind.” She clarifies that she sees the disability in the disrespect and the inconsistency people have towards themselves and their health because they claim to not be able to stick to their diet, do their exercises, find excuses, and maintain they do not have the time to do all that. I cant believe people dont have an hour a day to spare for themselves, to take care of their body, to take care of their health. Its all about priorities in life”, Dareen adds. Besides, it is not about obsessing about the way someone looks, its about loving yourself and taking care of the small things that will build the big picture. You cannot give from an empty cup, you have to be full in order to give.”

At the end of our interview, we asked Dareen Barbar, who describes herself as a resilient, powerful, patient, confident, ambitious, and passionate woman and always finds a reason to smile or laugh about, if she has any last advice for the female readers, women in general and the next generation. I want to tell them to always be yourself, love yourself, love what you do, and do what you love”, she replied. Keeping that in mind we wish Dareen and every other woman on this planet a happy International Womens Day and never forget what Michelle Obama once said, There is no limit to what we as women can accomplish”. Keep on rising!

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