Talking Esthetics.

Let us put politics aside for once and talk esthetics. I have a lot to say on the obsessional relationship of Lebanese women with their physique–not that I am really affected or annoyed by it. In fact, I am even going to plead for them.

A commonplace remark  states that one Lebanese woman out of 3 has had plastic surgery. We “know” that because the number of plastic surgeries equals the number corresponding to the third of the local female population; consequently, we associate the two numbers and we have a thesis! A solid thesis, since most of the Lebanese seem to believe it, given its occurrence in ordinary conversations. Foreigners too, tend to believe it–both Westerners and Arabs. It is a famous thesis indeed, as evidenced by a report broadcast on M6 (a French channel) in April 2010.

Allow me to point out, at this stage, that a widespread belief is not a sufficient reason proving its truth.  The number of plastic surgeries is correct, but the thesis is wrong, because it assumes that all the local plastic surgeries are conducted on the local population. What about the foreigners, notably women from the Arab countries, who go there to get a nose- or a boob- or a lip-job? Believe me, they are not just a few of them.

We also tend to forget about the men involved, which makes it necessary to double-check our stats: all the clients are not only women.

Anyhow, one has to yield to the remaining fact that Lebanese women have indeed a “special”, and pervert, relationship with the notion of physical beauty; they’re possessed by it. If you hang out more in cafés, bars and restaurants there, you will see. Alternatively, simply turn on the TV and watch those stupid Lebanese drama series. What I mean is that you just need to watch the actresses: they’re almost all “refurbished”. The same goes for some anchorwomen.

On a side note: I  always admired the high quality (and quantity) of denial among the Lebanese as to their miserable socio-economic situation. In the drama series, all the protagonists are handsome/pretty, rich businessmen, have big beautiful houses, 4×4’s, go shopping, etc. Our reality is misery, theirs is 24/7 dolce vita with some occasional petty complications (her boyfriend is cheating on her) and bourgeois problems (his stepson is secretly attempting to take over the family business). Each society has its drug and its trip. Lebanese society = denial and projection of self into a bling-bling paradise.

Back to our topic. I never quite understood why the Lebanese girls who happened to be pretty display this conceited attitude of self-importance, constantly telegraphing the message: “I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful; I’m a princess, I’m a princess, I’m a princess; and guess what I know it, I know it, I know it, (…) etc.”


Reminds me of American Beauty (a 1999 American film starring Kevin Spacey), where a 16 year-old blondie chick pretending to be a sex kitten (played by Mena Suvari), eventually turns out to be a lame virgin. Slight difference, however, the vamp age of a Lebanese Beauty starts, I think, with her 19th birthday.

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4 Responses to Talking Esthetics.

  1. joy says:

    Lebanese society= denial and projection of self into a bling-bling paradise
    love it!

  2. Tifa says:

    Well, very interesting post. Therefore (si je puis me permettre), you don’t answer the fundamental question which is : Why are lebanese women so obsessed by their looks? Why is plastic surgery so common and popular in Lebanon?
    What’s the sociologist’s answer to the phenomenon?

    • a.s. says:

      I usually refrain myself from providing all-encompassing theories on the subjects I address, but you are right, the question deserves to be answered, or at least speculated upon.

      My thesis is that this issue is directly linked to the men’s obsession with fancy cars, and the Lebanese people’s obsession with prestigious clothes and mobile phones. They are all different manifestations of the same phenomenon, which is, according to me, the *process of displaying self-value*. We are in constant demonstration of what we want to be. With regard to our image, we tend to be control freaks.

      It is commonly said that Lebanese people show off about everything, and it’s true. However, this is not a cause in itself, but also an effect of a more latent cause: lack of self-confidence. When you are not confident enough with what you are, you tend to compensate with what you have, thus creating/buying “extentions” (or external attributes) to your Self. Therefore, one seeks the “extensions” that are valued by others. At the end, we end up acting on assumptions of the others’ judgment. We have a beautiful subject here for interaction sociologists.

      There can be a feminist interpretation of what I evoked in the post, but the global cultural approach seems to me more convincing. Lack of self-confidence itself is the result of several factors in Lebanese society, but I will spare you another theory. Maybe in another post 🙂

      The more you feel good in your own skin, the less you will think of plastic surgery. Plastic surgery will never give you attitude. Most of these “beautiful” ladies will soon or later realize that they are bound not to attract men with their attitude. If it’s what they want….

  3. Pingback: Nawal el-Zoghbi or Elissa?! | "Billets d'humeur" on Lebanon.

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