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Why has Esra Bilgiç’s bold dressing become national issue for Pakistanis?


Failed to find perfect fashion statement among Pakistani celebrities, the locals have been searching for their ideal Islamic ‘hero’ in Turkey now.

After ‘Ertugrul’ that aired in Pakisatn in 2020, the citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan have somehow become obsessed with Turkish stars and how should they dress.

Even if any Turkish star especially the cast of Ertugrul posts a picture on social media, our locals would school them to wear what they dress in historical dramas usually. It seems like Pakistanis have failed to differentiate between ‘real’ and ‘reel life’.

Esra Belgic

Esra played the role of Halime Sultan in the mega-hit Turkish serial, which amassed millions of her fans in Pakistan. She became a household name in Pakistan since the show aired on the state-owned channel PTV. 

Ertugrul’s popularity in Pakistan

Pakistanis had been drooling over Resurrection: Ertugrul, a Turkish television series based on the father of the founder of the Ottoman dynasty. In fact, Ertugrul has broken all records in the country. The popularity of the television series had been such that local Pakistani entertainers were feeling threatened by the airing of Ertugrul in Pakistan.

Esra Bilgic and lingerie ad

The Turkish beauty recently collaborated with the globally famous lingerie company ‘Victoria Secret’ and posted pictures from her campaign on her social media account. Pakistanis’ Halima Sultan was seen in a semi-nude dress in a promotional video.

Outraged Pakistani users

This somehow triggered the masses especially Pakistan’s moral brigade because her outfit was labelled as ‘revealing’. The users expressed their anger over her photoshoot and gave her advice.  

Referring to her dress, a user wrote: ‘I don’t understand why do people love to share their half-nude pictures on internet!!! What is the logic behind it?’ Another angry user concluded that her dress was ‘bad’ and that she should get rid of it. 

Another Pakistani man wrote, ‘What are you doing? My Halima cannot be like this. I want to see you as a modest woman. Please revert back to the same Halima that you were in the TV series. That way, I can accept you for marriage.’

‘Real’ and ‘reel’ life

A glimpse of the regressive mindset that dominates the patriarchal society of Pakistan reflects the mindset of individuals. We are prone to take everything so personally that we as a civilised nation have failed to distinguish between what is real and what is the reel.

Indeed, Turkey is an Islamic state but that does not mean that locals should moral police Turkish actors and control what should they wear or post on social media.



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