Saturday, April 26, 2008

From taboo to routine

Khaleej Times on the spread of cosmetic surgery in the Gulf
Cosmetic surgery, once considered taboo in the Middle East, is becoming popular in the region, with a large majority of elite women and men going for it of late.
Men usually go for hair restoration surgery, including hair transplantation, restoration of scalp, eyebrow, eye lashes and moustache; liposuction; chin augmentation to look more masculine; lip implant; and tummy tuck.

Women, particularly Arab ladies, go for breast augmentation, breast implants, breast reduction, breast lifting for sagging breasts which is very popular among those with many children, lip implants, liposuction, minor facelift, post-bariatric (obesity) surgery, rhinoplasty or nose lifting, skin rejuvenation and many others
Dr Nihal Aboushousha, director of marketing and business development of AACSH [American Academy Hospital Cosmetic Surgery in Dubai Healthcare City], said cosmetic surgery is becoming more popular among people in the Middle East than the West.

She explained that the American Academy Hospital Cosmetic Surgery chose to open a branch in Dubai because the statistics showed several Emiratis had been travelling to the US for cosmetic surgery worth billions of dollars.
Kuwait Times 'Kuwait Plast 2008' This year the conference is concentrating on the problem of flaps, which occur after liposuction.
"Obesity spread in the Kuwaiti society, and many people suffer from this disease. Some of them decide to put an end to this problem, so they underwent liposuction, which can cause flaps. Now they don't know what to do with the access (sic) skin, which should be removed with plastic surgery."
The New Republic says,
Cosmetic surgery is commonplace in Iran, where the number of nose jobs performed each year is about the highest in the world. As Azadeh Moaveni notes in Lipstick Jihad, "To live in Tehran and not surgically enhance something would be like going to a designer sample sale and walking out empty handed." Interestingly, the nose bandage is a status symbol in Tehran and some even wear a nose bandage purely for social credit, when really no operation had been performed.

Why the Iranian obsession with appearance? In the case of nose jobs, there's a fairly straightforward answer: Since the Revolution, in 1979, the face has been the only part of the female body others could see, so fixating on it makes sense. But an emphasis on beauty also has deep historical roots in Iran. As one local told me, "Traditionally, Iranians believed that by taming and beautifying 'rough,' 'savage,' and 'uncontrolled' nature, it would lead to a higher level of godliness and spirituality. The word 'paradise' comes from the ancient Farsi for 'garden' and is a symbol of this consciousness." Indeed, a popular Persian carpet motif is a microcosm of this: It is a bird's eye view of a garden--walls around the edges, a fountain in the middle--a symbol of perfection brought into the house. Another Arab friend of mine had a cruder, but related thought about why Iranians obsess over appearance. "They have a superiority complex," he said--in other words, beauty is a way to show that they're a superior, more civilized people.
Finally, some before and afters of Western celebrities. Beware: it isn't always pretty.



Blogger Ali said...

Whats wrong with people, everyone seems to be obssesed with looks and looking sexy. It is fine to take care of yourself, but I saw the obsession in Beirut, Dubai and Amman (females and males). Sex is selling hot in the Middle East just like the US. I wonder if we have more important issues to discuss in the middle East.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cosmetic surgery phenomenon doesn't suprise me one bit. The peoples of Iran and the Arab countries mentioned in the blog post are going through a very rough transitional modernization phase.

You have people wavering between their typically strong values based on tradition and the now desirable capitalism-rooted values that are superficial.

But because of this transitional phase, the confusion is pronounced, and these people tend to take things as simple as body enhancement to extremes.

But I don't want to say that the phenomenon doesn't show the blatant hypocrisy of Arabs (especially the more conservative Moslem ones from the Gulf) and Iranians.

On one hand, the Gulf Arabs pretend to be so obsessed with the Word of God and His strict strictures against superficiality and trying to change what's God-given. Indeed, it's very easy to abstain from eating pork, or saying one is against genetic engineering. But, on the other hand, ban cosmetic surgery? Heaven forbid!

As for Iranians, I hated the nonsense in the New Republic report about 'paradise' and beauty and whatnot. Typically Iranian excuses (nonsense justification) for disgraceful behavior by your modern superficial 'Persians', a people who love to be so 'proud' of their heritage and culture. They bleat on about that stuff to no end.

Well, obviously they're not so not so proud of their genetic heritage--prominent noses.


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