Blue eyes, sleek hair and bleached facial hair – it’s all beautiful, just not Anatolian. The appearance of a Turkish woman is only interesting when she doesn’t look like one.
“You don’t look Turkish at all” is one of the nicest compliments a man can give to a Turkish woman. We, and I mean the whole world as well, are so fixated on western beauty ideals that I catch myself jumping for joy inside when someone mistakes me for French or Italian. My European freckles and my non-Anatolian nose go red with shame and I give some embarrassing, self-denying answers like: “Yes, right? I get that a lot.”
Just like recently, when a young man idolised me with the lovely words:
“You don’t look woggy at all. You look like a lady.” In his brain, Turkish women were certainly stored in the region “Aha!” and not “Oh la la!”.
Generally, natural looks don’t have much to do with beauty in the East. If a Turkish woman looks too natural, she is considered unkempt. Taking care of oneself means: eyebrows plucked with military precision, eyelashes with volume times 8, motorway marks on the eyelids and 145 IPL laser hair removal sessions. That’s also pretty much the beauty program that adolescent young Turkish girls follow starting on the day of their first period.
If you don’t submit yourself to the rules of artificial disguised beauty by age fourteen, you are a tick, a punk, that’s right, a Nirvana fan. And that’s not a compliment for Turkish girls.
I still remember that, contrary to my inner attitude and complete reluctance, I stuck painful, cheap, blue contact lenses in my eyes, straightened my curls with a steam iron and smeared stinking self-tanner on my face. All of it just to look like less of a Turk.,
Today’s so well sung casual naturalness is just not valid for women who first have to lie down in a tub full of hot wax in order to get the nude look.
Because with us, you only become something not when you are no longer yourself, but when you have restored yourself until you are the best European version of a Turkish woman.
We shouldn’t set an example for our daughters and sisters that tells them they are just a shell that can become a grand palace with the right redevelopment measures. Because even with bushy eyebrows, wiry curls and olive eyes black as coal, you aren’t a boring wog, but a real lady.
Cover: Joanna Mühlbauer