Seven days following his surgery, Parsa was preparing to remove his nose bandages. He had undergone a nose job, following his mother, sister, two aunts and his cousins, thereby continuing the family tradition of cosmetic surgery. He said, ‘Fifteen years ago, if a man or a boy would have had a nose job, everyone would have thought that there was something wrong with him and they would laugh at him and tease him, but now it’s very normal. Lots of boys and men are having their noses done.’ Parsa, an engineering student with a rich father involved in construction, then told me about his friend Saman who works in a cosmetic and makeup shop in a busy area of central Tehran. Saman had his nose job last year and had to sell his car in order to pay for the surgery. His main motivation, Parsa explained, was to improve his appearance and to attract more customers. ‘Every day he has to deal with a lot of women and girls coming to him for cosmetic products. That’s why he has to look good and stylish.’

Later that day, in the consulting room, Parsa’s consultant, Dr Mahmoud, highlighted the point that beauty standards in Iran have shifted towards ‘Western’ ideals. ‘Iranians are naturally very beautiful. They have very strong facial features like strong cheekbones, thick arched eyebrows and beautiful almond shaped eyes, but the size of the nose mostly lets them down,’ he said, grinning. Asked about men’s cosmetic surgery, Dr Mahmoud explained that in comparison to fifteen to twenty years ago, men have become much more preoccupied by their looks. They choose to have cosmetic surgery for many reasons but one thing for sure is the increased influence of social media on men’s perceptions of their appearance and how they look. A lot of boys and men are taking nice pictures of themselves and sharing them on social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram. Therefore, they are constantly feeling the pressure to look good. ‘Cosmetic surgery has also become a fashion for many boys who compete against each other over girls or middle-aged men trying to keep up with their younger wives or girlfriends,’ said Dr Mahmoud, adding that in current Iranian society, being beautiful has become a value – undertaking cosmetic surgery has therefore become a priority in life for both sexes. Dr Mahmoud said he mainly does four operations (ear, nose, face lifts and eyelids) and his calendar is full for the whole year. But what’s remarkable is that increasingly his patients are Iranian men. ‘You must have thought a country that is governed by Islamic ruling and principles would consider such actions as an unnecessary act and would disapprove and condemn cosmetic surgery, especially for men, as a whole. Not so.’

The rest of this article is only available to subscribers.

Access our entire archive of 350+ articles from the world's leading writers on Islam.
Only £3.30/month, cancel anytime.

Already subscribed? Log in here.

Not convinced? Read this: why should I subscribe to Critical Muslim?


Elsewhere on Critical Muslim: