Bizarre but true: Iran has the highest rate of nose surgery in the world. Physical beauty has become a full blown obsession in Iran and beauty salons are springing up everywhere. But at the same time, beauty is also feared, and sometimes demonized, by the religious establishment. In the midst of this complex relationship with beauty, Christ is bringing healing and restoration to many women who are discovering that their true beauty is found in Christ.
An obsession with beauty is perhaps not so surprising when we recognise that vast numbers of Iranian women are told their whole lives that their primary purpose is to find a husband and to please him. Time and time again Elam’s women’s ministry team hears ladies saying that they believe they are ‘worth nothing if they are not beautiful’. They have never before been told that their true worth and beauty comes not from their physical appearance but from their heart.
On the flip side the Iranian authorities fear women’s beauty and try to control it. Women risk being accused of ‘corrupting men’ if they are too attractive: and they can face a brush with the police if they are deemed to be wearing too much make-up. Earlier this month, Iranian graduate Nina Siahkali Moradi won a seat in Qazvin city’s council elections, but the 27-year-old was disqualified because she was regarded by religious conservatives as too good-looking to take up the post! So women should be beautiful. But not too beautiful.
As Iranians come to Christ, He is wonderfully transforming both men and women's understanding of beauty and worth. Of course it’s not just Iranians that have confused ideas about beauty; let’s pray that Christ will lead each of us into a deeper hunger for the true beauty of Christ-likeness.