Afghans opt for cosmetic surgery

Afghans opt for cosmetic surgery

KABUL - Agence France-Presse
Afghans opt for cosmetic surgery

Afghan women are lining up for cosmetic surgery in Kabul cllinics. AFP photo

Despite living much of their lives behind a veil, some Afghan women are feeling pressure to conform to ideals of female beauty and are lining up for cosmetic surgery at a handful of clinics in Kabul.

A few years ago, most operations would have been to repair war wounds or scars from family violence, acid attacks or attempts at self-immolation by women driven to despair by hard times in a male-dominated society.

Now, nose jobs are most popular, but facelifts, breast enhancement and tummy tucks are also sought after.

“10 years ago it was all about repairing scars,” said Dr Aminullah Hamkar, 53, who runs a Kabul clinic. “When I sometimes ask the young people who come here why they want cosmetic operations, they simply say they want to look better and beautiful,” he told AFP.

This was a good sign, he said, showing that people, at least in the capital, were moving beyond the violence of a hardline Islamist Taliban insurgency and contemplating ideas usually reserved for times of peace. “I was always jealous to see my sisters and others had longer and bigger noses while my nose was small and flat,” said Shaida, an 18-year-old girl who had a nose enlargement at Hamkar’s clinic.
The two surgeons at the clinic perform about two cosmetic procedures each week, apart from their regular plastic surgery for medical or reconstructive purposes.

Most cosmetic operations are done under local anesthetic to cut costs. And for nose enlargement, instead of using silicon, the surgeons cut cartilage from a rib, carve it to the right shape and use that.

More than a salary

A typical nose enlargement costs about $300, more than a month’s salary for many Afghans, but since the ousting of the Taliban regime 11 years ago, the influx of billions of dollars in aid has led to the emergence of a growing middle class. They have been exposed to trends in Iran, Dubai and European countries, and are willing to pay for plastic surgery purely for cosmetic reasons.

 Hamkar tells the story of an 18-year-old woman whose husband complained on his return from working in Dubai that her breasts were sagging and not up to the standards he had seen abroad and he didn’t want her any more.