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Iran Takes the Scissors to Western Hairstyles

Jul 6, 2010 – 10:10 AM
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Theunis Bates

Theunis Bates Contributor

(July 6) -- Worried that Western ideas might be seeping into -- and onto -- the heads of their nation's young men, Iran's religious leaders have issued a catalog of acceptable "Islamic" male haircuts. Ponytails, spikes, mullets and Mohawks are now forbidden, but Elvis-style locks, floppy fringes and Simon Cowell-esque flattops get the ayatollahs' seal of approval.

The entire selection of state-sanctioned styles will be revealed later this month at Tehran's Modesty and Veil Festival, whose organizers -- with help from Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance -- designed the hair guide. "The proposed styles are inspired by Iranians' complexion, culture, religion and Islamic law," Jaleh Khodayar, the fair's female organizer, told Agence France-Presse. "We are happy that the Islamic republic of Iran's government has backed us in designing these hairstyles."

Iranian hairstyle rules
Mohsen Rezai, AFP / Getty Images
An Iranian official shows pictures of hairstyles that have Islamic leaders' stamp of approval.
Although Iranian authorities have long attempted to enforce a strict female dress code -- women who wear their headscarves too far back or flash some ankle risk being arrested -- this is the first time that authorities have clearly set out what is and isn't follicly allowed for men. Previously, that judgment was left up to police, who would arrest boys with hairstyles inspired by European soccer players or American pop stars, and subject them to a swift short back and sides.

Barbers who offered decadent Western cuts and male eyebrow plucking also risked being raided and shut down.

But well-groomed men aren't the only group facing increased scrutiny this summer. The growing number of wealthy Iranians who keep dogs -- viewed as "unclean" by the mullahs -- could also face a crackdown. Last month, a senior Shiite cleric placed a fatwa on the pets and called for such displays of hound-human companionship to be outlawed.

"Friendship with dogs is a blind imitation of the West," said Grand Ayatollah Naser Makerem Shirazi, according to Reuters. "There are lots of people in the West who love their dogs more than their wives and children."
Filed under: World, Weird News
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