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Facial hair implants on the rise in Turkey
Constanze Letsch
The Guardian
December 27, 2012


More men seek surgery to gain symbol of status and correct `baldness of the face`

Turkey`s booming health tourism sector is getting hairier. Transplants have long been offered to those who are thin on top, but now facial hair implants are gaining in popularity, with follically challenged men flying in to make the most of the services on offer in the country.

Selahattin Tulunay, a doctor, says moustache and beard implants started to become popular two years ago, and that 10 to 15 of his 60 monthly hair transplant patients now ask for facial hair transplantation. Most are from the Middle East.

“Both in Turkey and in Arab countries facial hair is associated with masculinity and its lack can cause social difficulties,” Tulunay said. “In Turkish there is a word for it: kose - baldness of the face - and it is usually not considered a good thing. Businessmen come to me to get beard and moustache implants, because they say that business partners do not take them seriously if they don`t sport facial hair.”

Ali Mezdegi, a cosmetic surgeon, who has been in the business for more than 10 years, said many of his patients asked for transplants before they took a second, third or even fourth wife. “Thick hair is a status symbol, and a sign of strength and virility,” he said. Arabs, mostly from the Gulf countries, make up 75% of his customers.

Irfan Atik, general manager of a tourism agency that specialises in hair transplant tour packages, estimates that at least 50 Arab tourists go to Istanbul every day for the procedure. Packages cost about $2,300 (pounds 1,400) and include medical and overnight costs incurred during the four days that the measure usually takes.

While the majority of Atik`s customers are from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq, he hopes to extend his business to European countries, especially the UK, but laments that a lack of hair seems to be more fashionable there than in the Middle East.

Mezdegi said about 50% of patients came through an agency such as that run by Atik, or through word of mouth.

Turkey`s growing influence in the Arab world has transformed the country`s tourism sector, now dominated by Arabs: more than four million tourists from Arab countries visited Turkey in 2011, compared with 700,000 in 2001.

“Many of my visitors tell me how much they love [the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan,” Atik said. “They laud his stance on Palestine, they say he is strong and a real man.” But he admitted that so far none had asked for the “almond” moustache sported by Erdogan.

While moustaches like that of the Turkish actor Kadir Inanir, or of the Kurdish singer Ibrahim Tatlises, have long set the standard for what manly whiskers should look like, many patients now want stubble beards like that of Turkish TV heartthrob and model Kivanc Tatlitug, or the rugged good looks of the actor Kenan Imirzalioglu.

Tulunay is convinced the popularity of Turkish TV shows in the Middle East has started to dictate beauty ideals. “But I only transplant the hair,” he said. “I don`t groom it. After a successful hair transplant surgery a man could also grow a Marx-like beard if he so wishes.”

Do patients ever come with their partners to consult on a new moustache or beard? “Usually not, and if they do, they are not too keen on moustaches,” said Tulunay. “I guess that manliness is also in the eye of the beholder.”

© Copyright 2012. The Guardian. All rights reserved.

Mideast men go under knife for manly mustaches
By Tim Hume for CNN
CNN Wire
November 29, 2012


Thick, handsome mustaches have long been prized by men throughout the Middle East as symbols of masculine virility, wisdom and maturity.

But not all mustaches are created equal, and in recent years, increasing numbers of Middle Eastern men have been going under the knife to attain the perfect specimen.

Turkish plastic surgeon Selahattin Tulunay says the number of mustache transplants he performs has boomed in the last few years. He now performs 50-60 of the procedures a month, on patients who hail mostly from the Middle East and travel to Turkey as medical tourists.

He said his patients generally want thick mustaches as they felt they would make them look mature and dignified.

“For some men who look young and junior, they think (a mustache) is a must to look senior ... more professional and wise,” he said. “They think it is prestigious.”

Pierre Bouhanna is a Paris-based surgeon who, for the past five years, has been performing increasing numbers of mustache transplants. He says the majority of his patients come from the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Lebanon and Turkey, with men traveling to France to have the surgery performed.

“My impression is more and more they want to establish their male aspect,” he said. “They want a strong mustache.”

Both surgeons use a technique -- follicular unit extraction -- in which groups of hairs are taken from areas of dense hair growth to be implanted in the mustache area.

Bouhanna said the patients were generally aged between 30 and 50, and were able to fly home the day after they had the procedure, which costs about $7,000 (€5,500) and is performed under local anesthetic.

They are able to wash the next day, had to abstain from shaving for 15 days, and could expect to see full results after six months.

Tulunay said some of his patients had specific looks in mind. “They have some celebrities as role models,” he said -- Turkish singer and actor Ibrahim Tatlises had a look that many wished to emulate. Politicians in the region had also sought out his services to boost their appeal to voters.

Andrew Hammond, a Saudi Arabia-based journalist and author on Arab popular culture, said the mustache has a long history in the region.

“Having a mustache was always a big thing, ever since the Ottoman time,” he said. “Most Arab leaders have mustaches, or some form of facial hair. I think culturally it suggests masculinity, wisdom and experience. “

Saddam Hussein`s bushy whiskers were among the world`s most recognizable, but all of Iraq`s presidents before and since have also sported mustaches, as did Nasser and Sadat of Egypt (and the kings and sultans before them), Turkey`s Erdogan (and the two prime ministers before him), Syria`s Assad (and his father before him).

Christa Salamandra, an associate professor of anthropology at City University of New York, said that “traditionally, a luxurious mustache was a symbol of high social status,” and had figured heavily in matters of personal honor in the Arab world. Men swore on their mustaches in sayings and folk tales, used them as collateral for loans and guarantees for promises, and sometimes even shaved their opponents` lips as a punishment.

The notion of a man`s personal honor being bound up with his mustache appears to have survived into more recent times in some areas.

In 2008, militants in Gaza abducted a Fatah opponent and shaved off his mustache to dishonor him, while in 2003, in the lead up to the Second Gulf War, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri -- a senior aide to Hussein and, like the rest of the former Iraqi leader`s inner circle, himself mustachioed -- created headlines when he yelled “Curse be upon your mustache!” at a Kuwaiti counterpart at an emergency summit of Islamic states.

Visitors to the region, too, have long seen a value in growing a mustache to help earn respect.

The American diplomat Joel Barlow, who in 1795 was posted as U.S. consul to Algiers, wrote to his wife that he had grown a thick black mustache, which gave him “the air of a tiger,” and had proved useful in his work in the region.

More than 200 years later, a unit of American Marines in Iraq`s Sunni stronghold of Fallujah attempted to follow his example in 2004, growing mustaches in an attempt to help them win local sympathies.

In Turkey, different styles of mustache carry their own political nuances. According to one research paper, mustaches with drooping sides signify a conservative, nationalist bent, left-wingers favor mustaches like Stalin, while a “political religious” mustache is carefully groomed, with “cleanliness as its guiding principle.”

Jenny Soffel contribued to this story.

© Copyright 2012 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.

Bushy, thin, upturned - every moustache has meaning in Turkey
By Suzan Fraser
Associated Press
June 24, 1998

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - From a pile of books at his barber shop, Goksel Ayrancigil picks out a catalogue of moustache styles.

“The leftists will go for this one. ... This one is more for the intellectual,” Ayrancigil said, pointing at models.

Turkish men wear their moustaches not only to show off their manhood but also to express their political ideology: long and pointy for the right wing, scruffy for the left and beard-attached for the Islamic.

“A lot of thought goes into the shape of a moustache,” Ayrancigil said. “We have to be careful because customers do not want to be identified with the wrong crowd!”

Facial hair long has been a popular way for Turkish men to show their political leanings. Lately, however, their barbershop requests have become even more significant.

Turkey, overwhelmingly Muslim, has had a secular system for the past 75 years. But growing calls for a larger Islamic role in government have led to tension among secular and religious Turks. Last year, the secular military forced Turkey`s first Islamic-led government to resign.

Since then, the state has taken measures to curb Islamic influences, including banning women from wearing headscarves in public offices and schools and cracking down on suspected members of radical Islamic groups.

Earlier this month, pro-Islamic students clashed violently with security forces in protesting a ban on wearing their style of beard at universities.

Islamic supporters can be spotted a mile away from their full moustache and beard, trimmed in a semicircle at the bottom. Others go for the thin, short moustache worn by former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, who was pressured out of power last year.

Many leftists will, on the other hand, keep their moustaches long and scruffy, Stalin-style. Another favorite of the left-wing intellectual is the thin and slightly upturned moustache, usually accompanied by a goatee.

Kenan Sivaci, a fitness instructor, for years wore a long pointy moustache that drooped downward. It`s a nostalgic style once worn by the old Turkic warriors of Asia.

“I was a right-wing student then,” he explained.

Moustaches and beards are forbidden in the military, while public servants can wear only smartly kept moustaches.

“The moustache serves as a uniform,” said Coskun San, a sociology professor at Ankara University. “It allows the wearer to show the outside world that he belongs to a community, and to prove to his community that he is committed to its norms.”

The recent ban on Islamic-style beards at universities wasn`t the first time the state stepped in on Turks` shaving habits.

After a coup in 1980, the generals banned university professors from growing beards, then the symbol of left-wing intellectuals. Several professors resigned in protest of the decision.

There are, of course, some Turkish men who choose no moustache at all.

But the clean-shaven look also can carry meaning; it remains a favorite with Western-looking pro-secular youth and businessmen.

© 1998. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

A beard is never just a beard, says psychiatrist: And get ready for the return of the moustache
Tina Cassidy
The Boston Globe
National Post
January 04, 2002

There are those with infamous facial hair: Satan, Hitler, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden.

There are those with revolutionary beards: Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Osama bin Laden.

And religious beards: Christ, Moses, Zeus, Rastafarians, Amish, Sikhs, Jews, Muslims ... and Osama bin Laden.

While statistics show that 90% of men shave at least once a day, those who don`t choose not to for a reason, conscious or otherwise. That`s what Allan Peterkin, a Toronto-based psychiatrist, posits in his new book, One Thousand Beards: A Cultural History of Facial Hair.

“The gesture of changing one`s face is simply too powerful to be strictly conscious,” Peterkin writes. “The rather scant psychiatric and psychoanalytical literature available on the meanings of facial hair reveals that these decisions are based on notions of sex, death, aggression, rebellion, narcissism, damaged self-esteem, fetishism, and gender anxiety ... Simply put, beards suggest power, dominance and virility.”

Historically, beards have been used to distinguish one group from its enemy. And evolutionists believe the beard gives more prominence to the jaw and teeth, all the better for baring those pearly whites in a fight. We won`t even get into Freud`s theory, which, of course, involves the nether regions of the body and shaving`s being akin to castration (Freud had a beard). Then there`s the “gay beard.” For more on that, you`ll have to buy the book.

Beards have also been symbols of “grief, loss, bereavement, unemployment,” Peterkin writes -- which may explain Al Gore`s beard -- no more close shaves for him.

“I think for most men it`s transition,” Peterkin says, adding that Gore was the perfect example of that. “Middle-aged, wanting to change careers, wanting to change his public face, and he was a little heavier, so maybe the beard was concealing his jowls.”

So what`s next for facial hair?

Trend spotters “predict a big return of the moustache,” the author says over the phone. “It`s a bit surprising. It hasn`t been around since the `70s. These things do cycle. I really can`t explain why that would be. In the `70s the moustache took on a smarmy singles application, and it also may have become a gay or bisexual identifier. That`s why some think it fell into disfavour.”

But the moustache is already visible in some Gap and Kenneth Cole ads, while pockets of college kids have been having moustache-growing contests.

“Often these things start on college campuses,” Peterkin says. “And the stubble look is back, but less calculated than the Don Johnson variety.” It all seems to fit in somehow with the longer, shaggy hair men have been sporting.

What about goatees? They`re out. “Too ubiquitous,” Peterkin proclaims. “It`s like the middle-aged ponytail.” And in some club circles, beards have taken on a twist. Kids “are doing some interesting stuff, like the ancient Syrians and Persians, dyeing it, threading it with beads. They`re reinventing the minibeard.”

© National Post 2002. All Rights Reserved.





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