Natalie Naccache

Kteer Jeune (Very Young)
Location: Dubai
Nationality: British Lebanese
Biography: Natalie Naccache is a Lebanese- British documentary photographer based between Dubai and Beirut. Having grown up to Lebanese parents in London, her work challenges preconceived ideas of the Middle East in modern day society. Her photographs... MORE
Public Story
Kteer Jeune (Very Young)
Copyright Natalie Naccache 2024
Updated Jan 2012
Topics beirut, Children, Children beauty salons, Lebanon

Kteer Jeune (Very Young) 

by Natalie Naccache-Mourad


"Leave a girl without food or water, but don't deprive her of her make up, hair and

nails", states Lydia, a beautician at Papillon Rouge beauty salon in Moussaitbeh,

Beirut, Lebanon.


Originally famed for its wars and cuisine, Lebanon now has the reputation of having

the most beautiful women per capita in the world. The phrase "Kteer Jeune" means

"very young" in Arabic and French a theme which runs through the story. Both

languages are very prominent in Lebanon, emphasising the post-colonialism of the

country which is present everywhere. Females are brought up from a young age

influenced by their mothers, having beauty parties, teenagers and women having

regular beauty appointments. Every street in Beirut is populated with beauty salons,

which are not seen as pampering sessions, but a way of life in Lebanon, even for the

busiest of mothers and the poorest of people in society.

Maya Hilal, founder and owner of Spa-Tacular Salon and Spa, which opened

in July 2009, aims her business at children aged five and up. The idea was inspired by

her daughters' visits to the hairdressers, "it was a very bad experience, the place was

dull, there was no colour. So I thought, why don't I just do a place specifically for

them?" Hilal explained she was supplying a social demand and creating a cheerful

place for children "It's nice during holidays, during weekends, it's a pampering thing,

and a hygiene thing. It's the way you bring up your kids".

The First National Bank in Lebanon offers plastic surgery loans to women who are

under the age of 64 and employed - making plastic surgery accessible to almost every

one. Dr Paul Yazbeck, a practicing plastic surgeon in Beirut specialising in ears, nose

and throat, knew he wanted to become a plastic surgeon at the age of nine. When

asked if Arab women are increasingly losing their features, he stated they had no

distinct facial characteristics anyway. Lydia, of Papillon Rouge explained, "This

scheme benefits everyone, the bank because there are so many people willing, the

women benefit, and so do the doctors! Nowadays, if people want to go into a

successful career, they're advised to become a plastic surgeon".

With an increasing number of female teenagers undergoing Rhinoplasty operations,

Carine Halaby, 17, fell into the craze, "everyone did it this summer, they came back

to school with band aids on their nose. So I said ok, I hate my nose too, it's ok if I did

it, it's not a big deal". Her mother Diana, commented, "you have a lot of pressure here,

and I don't think we're happy, you have to follow the majority, it's a lack of

personality some people have. When I travel abroad, I don't care, I get into my shorts

and t-shirt, and I feel so happy, but here in Lebanon, I care, and I don't know why".

Samia Makarem, 71, does yoga exercises everyday and eats healthily - although she

admits she has a sweet tooth - and has never dyed her hair. She was recently

pressured by her daughter to undergo Botox injections above her eyelids because "she

frowned too much at people".

As Lebanese women grow older, these social expectations do not change. Maya Hilal

states, "I'm not encouraging anything, the new generation is in anyway, no matter

what we do, they are born much more aware, much more alert, and much more grown

up so whatever we do, we're not going to slow anything down".

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