The Fine Lines of Iran

The culture of beauty, vanity and plastic surgery in Iran is an aspect of the culture that greatly fascinates me, seeming unexpectedly so far from what we are used to in the West. The trend of facial tattooing is particularly popular among the female youths of Iran, having emerged within the last 20 years.

In England at least, it seems to be so rare to see people with tattooed eyebrows and permanent lip liner, whereas this is extremely common in Iran. One of my cousins has her eyebrows tattooed and another her lips. Whenever I tell any of my Western friends about this, they seem horrified. Why on earth would you do that they say?

Facial tattooing is sometimes difficult in particular situations for example, entering government buildings and religious shrines. In Iran, it is the guards who approve entry to these types of places, where make-up and your hair has to be completely removed or covered. In some cases, women have to demonstrate that their facial tattoo is in fact a tattoo, and cannot be taken off.

Iranians are known to have thick, dark hair and lots of it. I myself have quite thin and light hair, in comparison to the rest of my family. My female family members often remark on this. I would never consider having tattooed eyebrows though.

I personally don’t seem to understand the concept of eyebrows in Iran. I once had very thin ones, much to my own dislike, I shaped them all wrong by myself and a beautician told me I had ‘ruined’ them. All the while, a woman sat next to me was getting every hair plucked from her forehead, so she could have a new sleek and pencil thin shape tattooed on.

So why do some Iranian women tattoo on the thinest lines you can imagine on to their face and disguise these as eyebrows, whilst others believe the bigger and thicker the better? There does seem to be quite a wide gap on what is preferred in terms of brows, with such opposite styles being preferred by some and others.

The appeal of having natural features tattooed on your face is something far from what I would personally do – it is just another aspect of the Iranian culture that seems so far from the common stereotypes.

As a final note, I will tell you that my cousin who had her eyebrows tattooed is now regretting her decision and has decided to grow out her natural eyebrow hair. Enough said.

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