Women in Iran are required to cover their whole bodies leaving only their face, so it makes sense that lots of makeup is donned as one way for that inner desire to feel beautiful and accepted. However, makeup is not the only way to make ourselves feel beautiful as we have seen Hollywood portray time and time again. Since the women of Iran cannot express themselves with beautiful clothes or jewelry, they have found another way to do so with plastic surgery.
The popularity of plastic surgery itself is rising all over the world and the nose is the most easily changed. As a result, Iran has the highest rate of nose surgery in the world. So popular, there are call centers to field nose job inquiry calls and imports have increased by 100% for rhinoplasty equipment with national conferences being held frequently. Some surgeons even say European and US companies court Iran in order to sell the equipment, usually secondhand, to carry out such operations.
Iranian features have a distinct and bold nose often with plenty of height for women and width for men starting at the top, disturbed by a hump that decreases downwards. The ‘preferred’ nose, derived from their American counterparts in magazines and TV, is smaller, petite and cute-as-a-button. Moreover, another preference is a small upward ‘snooty’ shape at the end of the nose. Iranians refer to the perfectly formed button nose the surgery is meant to achieve as the “one million toman ($100) nose” (The Guardian, 2005).
Although precise figures are hard to establish, some predict that rhinoplasty’s have risen from about 10,000 to a confident 60-70,000 annually. Costs can range anywhere from $100 to $5,000US. Many surgeons even provide incentives to their nurses for a discount on the surgery for referral to others. Of course, the $100 surgeries are more often than not performed by unqualified and ill equipped ‘surgeons’.
There is a price to pay for those who are uninformed. As one dermatologist notes, many of his patients often come to him with this concern and ask him to do the surgery. If in the wrong hands, one can very easily ‘partner’ with a ‘surgeon’ to perform this surgery and split the money. Such jobs can be irreversible even with additional surgery and these victims then become a problem to themselves, their family and society, a very sad byproduct of this boom.
Because of this, Iran’s justice ministry has set up a special office for medical malpractice cases. There were 2,715 cases between 2001 and 2004 arising from cosmetic surgery that led to 459 doctors receiving written rebukes and 21 with suspensions for up to four years.
As the Guardian states, to some, that is little consolation. Sina Maadelat, 25, a Tehran taxi driver, has just paid £168 for his third nose operation, having been dissatisfied with his first two.
“The first time there was a lot of bleeding … I couldn’t breathe for two weeks,” he said.
“Then the doctor had problems removing the plaster cast and the stitching. The tip [of my nose] fell down again. I don’t think there was ever any problem with my nose. It was better before the operations.”
Many men also bring their daughters for surgery saying that they are not ‘marriageable’ or were divorced for this reason. Some women marry after a nose job and the ones without prefer not to marry.
Another man comments that he couldn’t hire any of the women who were auditioning for his play because all had a rhinoplasty, against the theory behind the story of the play. Another woman comments that even the men in her family have had their noses operated on and that perhaps only 2-3% of her family has not (most likely elderly members). Many Iranians travel back home from their foreign residences for the surgery because the cost is about 1/10 compared to the US.
Young people walk around the streets of Tehran with their bandages on proud display and some even do it without having had a surgery because it has become a status symbol. However all are not as frank about their reasons for having the surgery, many blame it on a childhood injury, breathing problems or some such excuse. Others say its simply boredom under the current restrictive regime with the lack of social activities.
Well, most of the wealth in the world is spent on materialistic items such as cars, houses, furniture, clothes and jewelry. Why not cosmetic surgery?
And to say that third world countries are more susceptible is to forget how many deaths we’ve had in the US from ‘simple’ cosmetic surgeries performed by un-licensed or mentally ill ‘surgeon’, or those clients who are caught in malicious self mutilating behavior with constant surgeries. Take Michael Jackson, Jocelyn Wildenstein or Michaela Romanini. They look scary and like they’re about to melt. Farrah Fawcett looked nothing like her original self. I hadn’t seen her in years, and upon the recent pictures before treatment deteriorated her looks, she hardly resembled herself.
Through my life, I’ve had issues with some of my looks, but I don’t ever recall it being to the point of obsession or wanting to change it. I remember in high school, I was big enough for people to think I had butt pads in my pants to enhance the derriere and now through the course of time, my butt is hardly existent. Sure I don’t have near enough cushioning to sit on hard chairs or bleachers without squirming, pants fit weird, but I don’t really turn around and look at my butt. I never ask the question “do I look fat in this?”
But to have boredom be the cause of plastic surgery because you can’t socialize under your country’s regime? This is absurd! Wait a minute, is that what happens with the rich society too? They have too much time on their hands and not enough ways to spend their money so they resort to drugs, buying islands, flying private jets, having items of status symbols (i.e. tiny dogs in your purse) and fixing their egos with plastic surgeries.
I guess our natural instinct is to like beauty, beauty that has been pre-defined for them by a carefully orchestrated Hollywood.