May Calamawy Contests Culture That Asks Her to Get a Husband
May Calamawy became a name now everyone recognizes because of her portrayal of Layla El-Faouly in Marvel Cinematic Universe's Moon Knight. But the actress had been building her career out of everyone's sight for the better part of the last decade.
This sudden rise to considerable fame has raised many questions regarding her professional and personal life. Along with her past projects, people are now asking about her romantic relationships.
People's attention to her having or not having a husband or boyfriend or her ability to procure one is not a new thing to Calamawy, though. It's only that the people asking the questions are different now than earlier in her life.
May Calamawy Grew up in a Husband-Hunting Culture
Calamawy was born in Bahrain, but she did roam around for a bit before turning 12. She spent six years in Doha, Qatar, and Houston, Texas, before returning to Bahrain again.
Writing for Glamour in June 2020, the actress recalled her experiences growing up in a middle eastern culture, which was a mix of both good and bad.
'Moon Knight' star May Calamawy poses in front of a Moon Knight ad in Times Square. (Photo: May Calamawy/Instagram)
The bad she experienced was regarding how women were treated.
"The culture puts an insurmountable pressure on women to look and act impeccably," she wrote in her piece. And that standard of impeccability was determined by what she termed "the patriarchy."
There was also immense pressure on her and women living there to get a husband with their looks.
"The ultimate goal of all the pageantry to delight the male gaze and procure a husband," Calamawy said. "The standards of beauty were clearly defined."
By the time she was 12, she was required to "have no trace of body hair anywhere" and groom her head hair "perfectly 24/7."
She rhetorically said it felt not that great to be 22 and living in such a conservative environment. She implied 22 was the "first wave of husband hunting" where she grew up.
May Calamawy’s Alopecia and Her Gripe with the Culture
Her intention with the piece was to discuss her life and experiences with Alopecia, a medical condition made famous by the Will Smith-Chris Rock-Jada Pinkett Smith Oscars incident. But this piece was her own account and one that came years before the incident.
She started having issues with the condition right as the "husband hunting" season began — at 23 in 2010. It was a stressful time in her life as her mother — also her best friend — was battling stage 4 lung cancer.
In her writing, she compared her mother's hair loss with her own. "Her hair was all but gone due to her treatment, and mine, triggered by the stress, started to follow, sometimes falling out in clumps while I showered," she confessed.
Calamawy disliked how her hair loss affected her life at the time. As it is a cosmetic issue, it affected how she looked, and she said the mental toll the hair fall took on her was "arguably more taxing, especially in a society that still determines so much of a woman’s value by her appearance."
She has dealt with hair loss multiple times in her career. In 2019, after feeling air directly hit the scalp at the back of her head, she realized the disease was back. But, despite the anxiety the patch gave, she tried to deal with the patch in the healthiest way she could.
She gave it a nickname — Margot — after Margot Robbie because she found her "stunning." Despite the friendship she built with her bald patch, she was still not comfortable telling everyone about it, especially on sets of her projects.
Nevertheless, she dealt with her issues within herself and has let them affect neither her career nor her personal life.
While discussing how she landed her part on Moon Knight, she mentioned having a boyfriend. He was right there with her when she got the news about her casting.
"My boyfriend was also there, and he cried. I was really cute," Calamawy told Entertainment Weekly about the moment they received the good news.
This is all that the actress has revealed about her boyfriend yet. We could expect her to share a few tidbits about him and their dating life as she does more press and interviews. After all, she's a bona fide star now.