The concept of beauty is one that is constantly contested by different people and groups over the years. The common saying “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” has been the only means so far by which varying views on what beauty actually is have been able to congregate and co-exist. Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, the Shah of Iran definitely had his own concept of beauty as he saw it through his eyes. The Shah was a veritable ladies man in his time and is notable for having a harem of almost a 100 women, who, if you were to see their pictures, would strike you for various reasons surrounding their physical look. As it would seem, emphasis back then was placed on the complete woman, and unlike what is believed in these days, it was not unusual for a beautiful lady to have very visible body hair.
Available pictures of the Shah's harem featured some of the beautiful royal ladies at the Shah's court, looking quite different from what one would expect by today's standards. A particular picture of the Princess Ismat al-Dawlah sparked the curiosity of many internet users because, despite her visible mustache. The picture, nicknamed “Princess Qajar meme”, claimed that she was so beautiful that more than 13 men killed themselves because the princess had rejected them. While most of what was said about the image were falsehoods, it did hold a bit of truth. There truly was a time when the female mustache was considered beautiful.
The mustache fashion of the Qajar women was, at the time, a beloved sign of physical beauty. The women were of considerable proportion, and had unibrows and mustaches, and, yes, this was considered beautiful by all.
In an account by Carla Serena, she recounted how she was made up by an Iranian princess and the mustache was added artificially at the end. Much like the appreciated dimples, long eyelashes and so on of today's culture, the Iranian women cherished their mustache. To many today, and possibly back then, this made them look manly, but it was the norm.
The story about the 13 men ending their own lives because they were rejected by the beautiful princess is, naturally, a fabrication and never happened. However, not only was the mustache fashion real, it was the epitome of the beauty standards at the time. It just goes to show how fluid and flexible beauty standards can be.