One thing you can’t help but notice in Beirut, is the number of women who have had plastic surgery. Walking down the corniche (the boardwalk that runs alongside the Mediterranean), you see women with tightly pulled faces, power-walking while sporting skin tight jogging outfits, with matching shoes, manicured nails, full makeup, perfectly coiffed hair, and their heads held high. Haifa Wehbe, the popular Lebanese singer and model, has had A LOT of work done and is often spoken of as the ideal Lebanese beauty. Whereas in the States, women go to their plastic surgeons asking to look more like Angelina Jolie, here, they want to look more like Haifa.
And now, in Lebanon, where the plastic surgeons are known for their talent and low prices, plastic surgery is being promoted as a draw for tourists. In fact, according to an article published today by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), Image Concept (a private company based in Dubai), has launched a cosmetic surgery tourism initiative in Lebanon that “…includes post-operation rest and recuperation in stellar resorts and even summer camps for patients’ children.” Resorts?? Summer camps for your kids??? Apparently, they take their plastic surgeries very seriously here.
Banks in Lebanon even have special low-interest loans that they offer to those interested in getting plastic surgery. Men go for plastic surgery as well, and if I had a nickel for every person I’ve seen walking around Hamra with their noses bandaged and bruised, fresh from a doctor’s visit…well honestly I’d have 25 cents, but I’ve only been here 2 weeks, and I’d say that’s a lot for 2 weeks.
“According to plastic surgeon Elias Shammas, who heads the Hazmieh centre and is affiliated with Image Concept, ‘It is a national duty for women to look the best they can.'”
So come to Lebanon for your next vacation, and you too can look more like a Lebanese Barbie!
Oh, and speaking of Lebanese Barbies, I was walking by this toy store the other day and in the window I saw….Muslim Barbie. She’s amazing!!
She’s actually not Barbie, but ‘Fulla’ (which is the Arabic name for a type of Jasmine flower and my great-grandmother’s nickname :)) – a Barbie-like doll, created by toy companies in Syria and the UAE for Muslim children as an alternative to Barbie. Fulla comes with two outfits – a more conservative outift, covering her hair and body to wear outdoors, and a slightly more revealing, more form fitting outfit to wear when she’s at home. Her daily activities include cooking, talking to her friends, going to work, going shopping, reading magazines and praying.
Check out one of the Fulla TV commercials – fun and a little bizarre:
Barbie face or Barbie doll…I don’t know about you, but when it comes to Lebanese souvenirs, I’ll pass on the plastic surgery, but I’d love a Fulla doll ;).