By Sumayyah Meehan MMNS Middle East Correspondent
Thereâ€™s a revolution in Iran that, for once, has nothing to do with politics, religion or the nuclear arms race. In fact, it has more to do with vanity than anything else. The number of Iranians, both men and women, seeking to alter their appearances with the help of a scalpel has increased exponentially over the years. Blame it on satellite television and the Internet, which bombards the average Iranian with images of western beauty around the clock. The influence of the West on the Iranian culture is evident, and proudly worn, in the form of designer clothes, extravagant make-up and so much bling that even the Ayatollah might do a double take.
One of the biggest beauty trends to hit the country is plastic surgery. A veritable bevy of surgeries are available for the Iranian elite from facelifts to tattooed make-up to glittering rhinestones surgically implanted in the gums. However, the most popular surgical procedure is rhinoplasty, or the common nose job. The procedure is so in demand that Iran has become the nose job capital of the world. There are an estimated 3,000 licensed plastic surgeons in Tehran alone. And the majority of Iranian plastic surgeons have performed tens of thousands of procedures, which is much more than their western counterparts often perform in a single year.
The cost of a nose job in Iran ranges from between $3,000-$5,000 a pop and is something that only the wealthy can afford. Rich Iranians who have the procedure often wear their bandages for weeks longer than they are supposed to in an obvious attempt to show off their â€˜red badge of courageâ€™. And even those who cannot afford the luxury of a nose job still try to increase their social status by donning fake bandages in a bid to create the illusion that they had the surgery.
Notably, Iranian men are just as likely to opt for plastic surgery as their female compatriots are. Years ago, it would have been a bit taboo for men to even consider going under the knife for the sake of their looks. However, times have changed with some Iranian men choosing to have plastic surgery so that they will be more pleasing for women to look at and have a better chance of marrying a beautiful woman.
Iranian experts in the field of plastic surgery, explain away the plastic surgery trend on one of two reasons. Either the candidate simply wants to look more beautiful or they have deeply rooted psychological problems. In the case of the latter, some Iranians are rejected with a refusal by the surgeon to conduct the operation. As a result, an enormous black market for plastic surgery procedures has emerged in Iranâ€™s underground where unlicensed surgeons perform risky operations in unclean conditions. The consequences are already beginning to bubble to the top in the form of facial disfigurement lawsuits that have flooded the Iranian court system.
It just goes to show that no matter where the locale, seeking perfection has become a marketable fashion trend that fuels the fires of an industry that feeds off of the insecurities of man.
For many, plastic is absolutely fantastic.