‘Modelling Iranian style’: surgical alterations and the ‘porn star’ look

A photo from Reyhane Bazargan, make-up artist, that I found by searching for ‘Aroose Teheran’

There is a “fever for modelling” in Tehran right now, says a photographer who has been working in the field for 20 years, as the profession has become a “status marker” in a vanity-driven culture. And the look that’s in vogue among female models is far from what many would consider natural Iranian beauty. What’s in is a highly doctored, surgically altered appearance that the photographer – who asked to go by the initials “B.K.” – describes as the “porn star” look.

In a society where physical beauty is highly prized, cosmetic surgery has become commonplace among the middle and upper classes. Iran reportedly has the world’s highest nose surgery rate, and those who work in front of the camera often first go under the knife.

Models with the sort of doctored appearances that are in demand can be seen on the Instagram pages of Tehran bridal salons and photo studios such as Aroose Tehran (Tehran Brides), with 115,000 followers; Aliss Studio; and Azadeh Fanaee.

Design houses such as Dohe Couture and RK Design also maintain Instagram pages that feature scores of images of women not in hijab, publicly acceptable Islamic dress. While Facebook and Twitter both remain censored in Iran, the authorities evidently turn a blind eye to this sort of taboo-skirting social media usage…

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