The Hijab is No Different Than Plastic Surgery
Editors comment: This is a post I wrote for Iranican.com who will be airing an episode on the matter live tonight at 9pm PST (watch online here). I suggest making comments on their blog as the appropriate forum.
There’s really two ways to look at plastic surgery: 1) to reform or fix a physical defect; or 2) to enhance one’s own quality of life by increasing their aesthetic appeal. For the most part, when we think of plastic surgery we think of the second, neglecting the first, despite the fact that plastic surgery has been used to correct severe functional impairments caused by burns; traumatic injuries, such as facial bone fractures; congenital abnormalities, such as cleft lip, or cleft palate; and the removal of cancers or tumors, such as a mastectomy. But thats not what the debate or issue is about. Its about the second aspect of plastic surgery. Its tie to nose and breast augmentations and how people demonize those who decide upon the procedure without a valid scientific basis. But in all honestly, who are we to judge what someone does to their body.
Is it based on social perceptions of beauty? Yes, but both men and women are judged in that fashion. In the same way that a wave of metrosexuality has afflicted Iranian men, the obsession with tiny waists has affected Iranian women. And with all do respect, the social obsessesion with rhinoplasty in Iran does not cut through gender lines. Just as many men get nose jobs than women do. Physical augmentations are really nothing new. In fact, in many ways, one can perceive the wearing of the Islamic hijab in the same fashion as a nose job. It augments one’s physical appearance in order to attract or unattract one’s perception of another’s physical body. Here’s some additional interesting thoughts:
1. As noted by Iranian plastic surgeon, Nabiollah Shariati, “Because of the hijab women have to wear, the face becomes the most prominent part of the body.” In other words, the enforcement of “Islamic” morals has influenced how women display their attraction. Ironically, in Saudi Arabia, a social phenomenon exists where a woman’s appeal is based on the beauty of her hands in areas of the country where the niqab is enforced. Its an issue of sexual selection which impacts all cultures, races, and genders and changes with every generation.
2. According to the BBC, Tehran has become the “men’s nose job center of the world.” While more women get plastic surgery done, on average, it would be foolish to view this from purely a feminine perspective. This is not an issue of gender, but social psychology concerning attraction.
3. There is no plastic surgery phenomenon in Iran. True, Iran is the nose capital of the world (as least by some), but all forms of plastic surgery continue to be restricted to those who can afford. The average yearly salary of Iran is around $1200 according to UN reports. Cosmetic surgery in Iran ranges between $400-$3000 for a nose job. In general, they cost about $1000. Based on the math alone, therefore, Iranians generally cannot afford cosmetic surgery. Rather, and the BBC points this out, it has become a tool in competitive circles amongst Iran’s affluent population to compete with one another for the rights to someone of the opposite gender.
Personally, I don’t agree with plastic surgery. I think it makes a woman look plastic and manufactured. At the same time, who am I to judge what someone else does? If an Iranian woman wants to wear the hijab in order to conform to perceived Islamic norms, thats her body and her right to do so and a woman wearing the hijab doesn’t expect to be judged. So what right do we have to judge another woman, or man, who similarly augments their physical appearance? The fact is we don’t.
Comment from Magnolia
I totally agree. Having visited Iran and
having stayed there for almost a year, I couldn’t help but notice how most
people in Tehran are so unrealistically good looking. 9 out of 10 women have
nose jobs and half of the men have had them too.
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