25 May 2017

Impressions and Images of Iran: On Rhinoplasty, Breast Enlargement, and Cosmetic Surgery

During the three weeks that I have spent in Iran, there was one aspect that I must say surprised me. I saw plenty of women (and even men) who would be walking around public places with a bandage on their nose. At first, I thought that they were punched by someone, but I saw too many of them so that hypothesis was becoming more and more absurd. And that's when I realized that these people actually have a bandage because they just had a nose job. They had cosmetic surgery to fix their noses!

I thought people don't like broadcasting those things. I thought people took extended vacations when one has procedures like these done. You know, you disappear for a couple of weeks, and after you come back, you just show up with a new nose, or a bigger set of boobs, but pretend as if nothing happened. After all, you don't want people to think that your body parts are artificial, but rather, those are your natural and that you are genetically blessed, so to speak.

Not in Iran. People parade the fact that they had a nose job. And so I probed more into this. Apparently, the Iranian medical system is rather good, good enough and also cheap such that foreigners even come to Iran to have cosmetic surgery! It seems to be a thriving business. Not that I want to alter something from my body, but at least it's something new I recently learned.

This episode just impressed upon me how culture can differ. People in the West have a warped sense of beauty: there is a certain standard of beauty, but its worth would be way higher if it were natural, as opposed to artificially engineered. Iranians on the other hand seem to not care whether it is natural or not. All that matters is that the bridge of your nose should be perfect. And if a knife is needed to make that possible, then so be it.


  1. I paused when I read the title of this entry! This is NOT something I would have associated with Iran, funny. A true cultural discovery!

    On a side note, I had the reverse experience in Brazil. I had always heard it was a plastic surgery paradise, but the almost half-naked bodies I saw daily at the beach were... very normal, very much human. I did see a few larger-than-nature-makes boobs and butts but very few.

    1. Zhu,

      I think the fact that I spent 3 weeks in Iran allowed me to notice little things like these. It definitely is a cultural discovery that one would possibly overlook if one was just there for a few days.

      And regarding Brazil, I think for people who haven't been there, there's a warped sense of Brazilian beauty, after all, Brazilians feature well in the fashion industry and media. But of course there is a normally distributed population as well, so there will be obese, overweight, and average bodies.