Last Updated: Sun Jul 24, 2011 00:51 am (KSA) 21:51 pm (GMT)

Basra Haider / Arabian Beauty: Plastic is Fantastic

I wanted to clarify my point in my first blog “Celebrating the Middle Eastern Woman.” I spoke about my teenage experience of growing up in the suburbs of Toronto, in an-all white neighborhood, going to a high school where I and my sister and brothers were the only visibly ethnic students.

I shared this story, not because I wanted to talk about myself but because the only story I can fully share is my own experience and in sharing my experience, I was hoping to legitimize my empathy toward all those that have issues with their beauty. My insecurity led me to wear a mask-like, white foundation well into my early twenties, relatively harmless. However, other women are not so lucky.

Women, in general, have far too many “issues” with themselves and to my surprise many of the women that pretend they don’t care about such things actually do! I was talking to a male friend of mine on the subject and he put it simply, “Women should stop mutilating themselves to try and look pretty; we don’t ask them to, they do that on their own.” In the Middle East women are so perfectly groomed it borders on boredom; our European sisters may look natural but they spend a small fortune to achieve that “natural” look on monthly very expensive, skin treatments, injections and fillers.

My first blog was about “feelings” and our quest to be what our minds tell us is beautiful. Ultimately everything we do, everything we want is because we chase after what we think will make us feel good. Regardless of the beauty we achieve on the outside the change or shift must first come from within for all the pieces to fit together and truly achieve what we want; that is, to “feel” good more than just look good.

Not too different from taking that first cigarette puff to calm the nerves, only to find that if you don’t keep it up it makes you feel worse than you started, so you have another. When I see women with perfectly healthy breasts getting enhancements or butt implants or whatever else they do, it makes me wonder at the madness. How good do you want to feel? And what exactly is the butt implant or whatever lifts going to do for you exactly? I know models that often get silicone in this region because rail thin just does not fill the long evening gowns often designed and worn here. But, if your work doesn’t require it, what exactly does it accomplish?

A neighbor of mine consulted me about getting a face-lift, of course, I tried to discourage her; I tried to explain that there were less dramatic, non-invasive ways to reverse aging, but she was adamant, so I wished her luck. When she returned from the United States and I saw her a few months later over coffee, she told me, it was worth it and even though she had now lost feeling in her chin, she was already planning on getting the neck done because she hadn’t notice before how wrinkly it was.

All I could do was try not to stare at her mouth which had been so stretched out of portion from the lift, that it reminded me of The Joker from the Batman movie.

What many women fail to understand, as smokers do, is the damage that is happening internally. Not just on the body but on a mental level. Cigarettes don’t really calm the nerves, they mask it, so we need another; plastic surgery does not really make feelings of insecurity go away, it temporarily masks them, so when those feelings creep back and we lose that instant high we get at the beginning, the solution seems to be to get more done!

I have an Iraqi client who’s make-up I do for special occasions and she had her first surgery of far too many, her nose done about six years ago at the age of twenty-four, and at one point she was actually looking good, but she just couldn’t stop, now she looks like a wax figure from Madame Tussauds, except that the wax figures can’t close their eyes and she can, well one fully and the other almost all the way.

Yes, she blinks like this and sleeps with one eye slightly open and yes she will attempt to have it corrected.

More women are unsatisfied than satisfied with their procedures, but they will never tell you this because they cannot undo it. Nor will they admit that they have had multiple operations to achieve the results that are still not just quite right. Instead, they will smile and say go for it! Plastic is Fantastic! Indeed.

(Basra Haider covers the beauty industry. She can be reached at:

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