Plastic Fantastic!

February 26, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan MMNS Middle East Correspondent

surgeon-putting-on-mask There’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 ‘red badge of courage’. 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.

 nose_iranian 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 Iran’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. 

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The Bachelor City

December 11, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan- MMNS Middle East Correspondent

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The phrase ‘hired help’ takes on an extreme meaning in the Gulf with just about everyone, who is anyone, employing a bevy of service workers to fulfill their every whim. The majority of the workers are males hailing from Southeast Asia who leave their homelands in the hope for a better life in the oil rich region where they earn a meager living, which they send back to their families. They are garbage collectors, office tea boys, stockists, chauffeurs, janitors and are basically ‘jack-of-all-trades’ in every sense. They do the work that no one else wants to do and keep the Gulf nations running smoothly. Without this source of cheap labor, the current construction and economic boom in the region would come to a screeching halt.

However, the side effect of importing laborers from other nations is that there is an abundance of bachelors residing in residential areas, which often causes problems for families and the community as a whole. Nowhere is this more evident than in the State of Kuwait. According to recent research conducted in the tiny Gulf nation, bachelors are responsible for the bulk of crime in the country with theft and sexual assault topping the list of transgressions. It comes as no surprise that the so-called bachelors have turned to crime when they have limited opportunities in Kuwait, zero chance of promotion in their menial jobs and are lucky if they are paid their salary on time or at all. Some have no choice but to dig through the garbage to earn money from recyclables as their ‘payday’ is unreliable.

The issue of the bachelors has long been a sticking point in the Kuwaiti Parliament with MP’s from every district highlighting citizen complaints about the bachelor’s crimes and presence on the streets into all hours of the night. This past week the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL) announced plans to construct a ‘bachelor city’ to house the ever-growing number of unattached men in the country. The first complex will be built in Sabhan city. It will cover 60,000 square meters and accommodate an estimated 3,000 laborers. The second complex, still in the planning stage, will cover 1000 square meters and house an estimated 9,000 workers. Both complexes will contain entertainment facilities and basic service businesses, like mini-grocery stores and barber shops. The governmental aim is to relocate all bachelors from the residential areas of Kuwait into their very own city to limit the opportunities for crime and to appease residents.

However, it remains to be seen if the idea will be a success or a failure with many bachelors up in arms for being forced to leave the only homes they have known since they landed in Kuwait. Many are law-abiding citizens whose only crime is that they are labeled as menaces to society simply because of the actions of other bachelors. The bachelors will be bused to and from their places of work in every city of Kuwait each day and return to their own city at night.

When asked about the plan for the bachelor’s city, Muhammad Amin, who is a Pakistani bachelor and day laborer said, “I think it is wrong to blame all bachelors for the problems of the country. The finger-pointing should be directed to the recruiting agencies who hire us from abroad. Moving us all to one city is not going to solve any problems and will cause anger amongst us for being kept away from society as if we are lepers.”

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