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Inside the Middle East
July 8, 2010
Posted: 850 GMT

By Saeed Ahmed and Mitra Mobasherat, CNN

(CNN) - Iran has laid down the law: mullets won't make the cut.

The Islamic regime, which strictly enforces head coverings for women, issued grooming guidelines for the guys this week.

A woman in Tehran on Monday stands next to a board with pictures of men's hairstyles authorized by Iran.
A woman in Tehran on Monday stands next to a board with pictures of men's hairstyles authorized by Iran.

Among the do's that are now don'ts? The '80's Prince-style pompadour preferred by many young Iranian men, the Steven Seagal-style ponytail and the "business in the front, party in the back" sentiment of the mullet - also popular among the Persian populace.

The approved styles have a distinctly 1950s look to them: short on the front and sides for the most part. But the gel-slathered, combed-back 1980s look also received the government's blessing.

The "Islamic" haircuts were unveiled at the Hijab and Chastity Festival, a fashion event designed to show how the country's youth can be stylish yet not run afoul of the fashion police.

"Hair styles have been designed based on the shape of the neck, beard, the size of the chin and provincial cultures," said Jaleh Khodayar, the secretary of the festival. Her comments were reported by the semiofficial Mehr news agency.

"In designing these hair styles, we have not tried to go backward. On the contrary, we have tried to make our designs a mixture of our traditions and Iranian culture, as well as the latest fashions and by doing so confront the cultural assault by the West (on our country)."

Majid, a 32-year-old Tehran resident who did not want to give out his last name, shrugged his head in amusement.

"I don't think these young men will stop wearing these hairstyles, even though in my opinion they are actually pretty strange," he said.

He prefers his own hair on the short side.

To the outside world, the crackdown on cuts may represent further restrictions by an already restrictive regime.

But in one way, they are a loosening of guidelines: None of the photographs of acceptable grooming styles feature models with full-grown beards - a look, a la President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that Iran had encouraged for years.

Filed under: Iran


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Unfree   July 8th, 2010 2:34 pm ET

Iran... the land of the Free.

John A   July 9th, 2010 8:16 pm ET

Unfree, read the patriot act and come back to us with added knowledge about freedom.

Possibly by the time you come back to us, Obama would not have successfully censored the Internet.

Hope   July 10th, 2010 4:46 am ET

On the other hand, great poster!.bright colors..bubble head dudes, profiles and all!..a bit disappointing though for not showing any hair-spray products..

miriam   July 11th, 2010 5:38 pm ET

John A,

But what is censorship of the internet when you can't wait for a world dominated and controlled by Islamism?

Your two ideals of anarchic freedom and life under Islamic values are absolutely contradictory in every respect apart from their common, irrational anti-Israel propaganda.

It is only that common denominator that can explain your support for such opposing ideologies and most likely many more that share only one thing in common.

Hope   July 11th, 2010 9:37 pm ET

What does the Patriot Act has to do with Iran's women's civil liberties? Women are wrapped like mummies. Forcefully. While men's hairstyle is on the run..What's next, posters for men's pedicure!! You don't see the oddness in the photo?...try it..wrap yourself up when its 106F!

John A   July 12th, 2010 6:00 pm ET

Miriam you have haunted the blog for months and still you understand nothing.

The question is not about the world living under Islamic rule. The question is why so many Palestinians have been left to live under Israels illegal and bloody military occupation.

You see its simple, the west lives a western lifestyle. The Palestinians can live a Christian or Muslim life style. And the Jews should withdraw to Israel to live a Jewish lifestyle.

Finish the Israeli illegal occupation and let all live the life style of their own making. If Zionists could give up their murder, assassination, forgery of passports, assault on aid ships, bulldozing of homes, siege of Gaza, illegal settlements and spying on allies, then there would be no need to question what Israel does. You wouldn't even need to pretend Israel is threatened by anti Semites. If Israel stops acting like a lunatic Nazi state, we can all get on with our lives. Is that so much to ask for or too much for you to understand Miriam??

John A   July 12th, 2010 6:34 pm ET

Hope, the patriot act has nothing to do with Iranian womens civil liberties. You have nothing to do with Iranian women's civil liberties, neither do I, neither does Miriam and neither does America. It is an issue for Iran to fix.

America fixed its racial discrimination in the 60's without being invaded by more enlightened nations. So whats with the constant bad mouthing of Iran. As if its were the only country with social issues.

The patriot act has everything to do with the creeping withdraw of Americas civil liberties. And this is what Americans should focus on i.e. their own problems. And God knows Israelis have enough self made problems within their own boarders, without needing to occupy Syria and Palestine.

My point is; let Iran fix itself as it poses no threat to any other nation and hasn't done for over 1000 years. Why does western media spend so much energy trying to unsettle its readership's sensibilities about Iran, when America needs to focus on a multitude of its own problems? We certainly dont need to have our energies directed towards an Iranian invasion along with more Iraqi styled weapons of mass destruction bs.

All the negative media about Iran is made to condition Americans into swallowing more BS and more needless wars. Have you noticed the problems of orthodox Jews hardly gets a mention. The problem with Israels rampant sex industry or other social issues in Israel. Its not a coincidence that the media over looks the problems in some countries and focuses all its energies on others. It called manipulation.

John A   July 12th, 2010 9:54 pm ET

Bye the way Hope, Arabic style of dress has evolved to protect from the heat. Arabic people wore such clothing long before anyone invented Islam or Judaism. The evolution of Arab womens clothing has nothing to do with religion.
My aunt was on holiday in Syria last year. Although she is not Muslim,she wrapped her self up in typical Muslim attire and found it created far better protection from the searing heat.
So I challenge you in the same way, walk around in 45°c heat without a cloth around your head and back. You will spend the next week lying in bed attending to your burnt skin.

gio   July 22nd, 2010 8:30 pm ET

dear John, now I understand the reason why Muslim women are forced to stay at the beach and to swim completly dressed, the sea is too hot for them?? ;-))

John A   July 23rd, 2010 8:57 am ET

No Gio, thats not why Muslim women swim with clothes. You try to be clever but have failed big time. First do you know any Muslim women? Just because they are not the same as you, it doesn't mean their difference are forced upon them.

To claim anyone who does not live like you must be forced into a life against their will is massively ignorant and also racist claim.

Do you know European women look at Americans as if they are Mormon prudes as European women frequently lie naked on the beach as do men. So Gio, can you explain all the differences between the nations with your theory of Muslim men forcing Muslim women into acts against their will? How many American women do you know who get an all over sun tan in public. According to Gios theory it must be horrible American men who stop their ladies from becoming naked like the Europeans.

Gio take a holiday and see some of the world, then you will realize we are all different. Currently your lack of vision makes you think anyone who does less than you is conservative and anyone who does more than you is liberal. Which means you think you are perfect hahaha

The truth is must Muslim women would look at Western girls running topless on the beach and think they are nothing more than prostitutes. And thats what Muslim women would think at their own free will. Actually the west had more or less the same values 100 years ago. But now the west prefers teenage pregnancy, aids and drug abuse as part of the price for moral freedom.

Hope   July 31st, 2010 10:58 pm ET

Those are some harsh words John A..Expressing opinion about women's attire or lack of liberty does not automatically means bad mouthing Iran..I am not the media, just one person's small opinion. Understandably every country has its own social issues including us. I'm with you regarding all the negative media (collective brainwash) towards Iran to support a future invasion..Why not!!..That's what happens when American media is owned by influential American Jews. Most likely they're loyalty is with Israel, not the U.S.

Hope   July 31st, 2010 11:10 pm ET

However your take on, "Arabic style of dress has evolved to protect from the heat."..is a bit hilarious!!, You cant be serious! Basic physics, BLACK attracts sun-rays and heat... We are taking about a women's attire (head-toe-black body wrap), NOT a white male -dishdashi- invented to fan away his "carrots" in the desert heat! ! This is an endless debate, some will say women's covering will protect them form the male gaze, allowing them to become autonomous subjects, others argue this is only an illusion to protect-serve and to absolve men of the responsibly for controlling their behavior. See!!!.......And yes, the veil is not uniquely Islamic invention, the practice has a long history in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Catholics nuns engage in the practice.

Hurray for you Aunt.. I too had to cover my head and shoulders visiting Mosques in Istanbul. Modesty to show respect. Common sense when one travels to Muslim countries visiting religious sites. But, if you are trying to sell us the notion she wrapped herself looking like the mummified women in the above photo.. and was very cool about it!! not buying it, sorry :)

John A   August 1st, 2010 1:44 pm ET

Hope, its so nice to discuss differing views with someone who has a thought process. I was beginning to think that all who read this blog find it acceptable to define justifiable debate as being "anti Semitic" ;-) So thanks for breaking that dull minded and nauseating routine.

As for the attire of the lady pictured above, I would simply state all cultures have their differences. German girls have no problems to lay naked on a beach, American girls like to wear a bikinis, Muslim women wear full cover robes. Are we to say American women are perfect, Europeans women too liberal and Muslim women to oppressed? Or should we just face the reality that all cultures have evolved their own way and who are we to judge?

At the end of the day, it's not the responsibility of any nation to advise others on issues of culture, dress, democracy and rule of law. The only occasion that it becomes a global question is when one nation interferes with the rights of other nations i.e. Nazi Germany invading Poland, America invading Afghanistan, Britain when it was colonizing and Israels illegal occupation.

I must admit when a country such as America tries to be the global judge of democracy and culture, I find it quite disturbing. Take away guns and money and America has very little culture to speak of. When American's had slavery and blacks without votes, they called themselves a democracy. But when America changed its ways, everyone else had to at the same time or the America would claim other natins are not as democratic and a regime change is needed. How would American's have felt if more enlightened nations invaded them to speed up the civil rights movement in the 60's? Probably the same as the Iraqis feel now.

So all in all its better to leave countries to their own destiny, unless that country feels its destiny is to ethnically cleanse another.

miriam   August 8th, 2010 12:42 pm ET

John A,

And perhaps that is why the US and NATO has intervened in those countries of the world involved in ethnic cleansing whether in Africa, Europe or the Arab/Muslim world.

nadz   August 10th, 2010 1:26 pm ET

John A, I'd just like to say you are probably one of the most sensible people who has spoken on the subject in a long time.

I'd just like to add to the discussion on women's dress. I live in Saudi Arabia, and I've been to the beaches here, and I'd just like to say I have seen women in bikinis on the beaches here, and no, they are not just expatriots, there are MANY Arabs and even Saudi who sport them. There are also on the other hand, those who prefer to go to the beach fully covered and wade in the water this way. Each to their own. It seems to me that many are generalising and saying that ALL Arab women are forced to dress in this way, which I can assure you is not the case, having lived in an Arab and Muslim country the entire duration of my life and having visited many others.

Talia   September 30th, 2010 9:14 pm ET

John A I totally agre with nadz was saying about you. Food for thought..

R. Ruth   February 19th, 2011 3:46 pm ET

MY "Official Hairstyle Recommendation" for Iran:
Since Iran has issued official hairstyle recommendations recently (to avoid "western influence"), I have some of my own. (But first let me point out that the hairstyles they recommend are exactly like our "1950's" styles–in America–and a lot of us are still wearing them today!)
My recommendation: They should let their hair grow long because Samson's strength was with him only when he had long hair and was gone when Delilah cut it off. But, they should mousse it into dreadlocks (matted coils of hair) like some handsome African tribes do. It would definitely not be "American/Western influence". In Africa they have been known to use COW DUNG as mousse. In Iran they could use CAMAL DUNG because there is a ready supply of it and even the poorest folks could afford it. I personally would be glad to put on my gloves (to protect them from American cooties) and apply it for them for a nominal fee of–say–$5 bucks–or I could just do it for free, in the interest of international relations.


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