July 6, 2010 / 2:48 PM / 9 years ago

Men get guidance for modest haircuts

A barber cuts hair at an official hairstyle show in Tehran July 5, 2010. A guide containing pictures of hairstyles considered appropriate for Iranians, which are inspired by the country's culture, religion and Islamic law, was released and approved by Iran's Culture Ministry recently. REUTERS/Mohsen Rezaii/Mehr News

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Women in Iran must cover their hair in public to comply with Sharia law, and men, too, are expected to have modest haircuts — but what exactly does that entail?

A new set of hairstyles has gone on display aiming to guide barbers and their customers away from the temptations of decadent western coiffures.

“We don’t have a backward attitude. We are trying to present new hairstyles while preserving tradition and observing Iranian culture,” said Jaleh Khodayar, secretary of the Hijab (Islamic dress) and Chastity Festival where the approved haircuts will go on display.

“This is how we will fight back against the Western cultural invasion,” she said, according to the semi-official ILNA news agency.

Photographs of the new styles shown to the media include a variety of cuts for curly or straight hair. None are long, but several have elements of style, including long sideburns and, in one instance, a quiff reminiscent of a 1960s Elvis Presley.

“These hairstyles were designed according to aesthetic science, the type of neck, beard, length of chin and the culture of the provinces,” Khodayar said.

It was not clear if the haircuts were officially approved by the government.

As Iran deals with international sanctions over its nuclear activities and braces for potential economic upheaval when state subsidies start being phased out later this year, personal appearance remains one of Iranians’ biggest preoccupations.

Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was first elected in 2005, annual summer crackdowns on immodest appearance have intensified. Women who reveal strands of hair run the risk of being stopped in the streets for failing to respect the dress code.

Reporting by Ramin Mostafavi; writing by Robin Pomeroy, editing by Paul Casciato

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