"Among women": Beauty under wraps in Iran
The highest number of nose jobs in the world, dyed-blond hair and perfect manicures – many Iranian women emulate Hollywood actresses, often behind closed doors and underneath the chador. In her photo series "Among Women" Samaneh Khosravi shows many facets of female beauty ideals in Iran
1. A scarf over blonde hair, a coat over Western clothing: an Iranian woman preparing to leave the house. The beauty ideals in Iran are a tightrope walk between traditional and modern, explains photographer Samaneh Khosravi. Many Iranian women emulate the appearance of Hollywood actresses, following them via the Internet or satellite TV
2. Clothing regulations have applied since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. They state that women must cover their hair and the contours of their bodies in public. Young women in particular interpret the rules loosely, wearing headscarves but still showing their hair. Here, Khosravi photographed a group of friends out on a stroll on Tochal, a mountain in the north of Tehran
3. Religious Iranian women interpret the clothing rules more strictly and often wear a chador in public, leaving only their faces free. For a number of years women were actually banned from veiling themselves in Iran. Under the Persian king Reza Shah Pahlavi, they were not allowed to wear headscarves in public from 1936 to 1941
4. The regulations don’t apply at home. A young Iranian woman photographing her outfit before leaving for a party – she will have to cover herself up on the way. Although social networks like Facebook and Instagram are officially banned in Iran, many people find a way around the prohibitions. According to the Swiss Neue Zurcher Zeitung, some 55 percent of Iranians are active on the Internet. Even President Rouhani is on Twitter
5. Iranian women spend a lot of money on their appearance; cosmetic surgery is booming. Between sixty and seventy thousand women have nose surgery every year in Iran – more than in any other country. Photographer Samaneh Khosravi accompanied a young woman to have her bandages removed. "She was very pleased with the result"
6. "Western role models play just as much a part in beauty ideals as tradition," says Khosravi. Fashion is also influenced by this mix
7. Many Iranian women shop online – especially when looking for unique pieces like this Marilyn Monroe coat. Khosravi explains: "Young designers simply post their clothing on Facebook or Instagram and sell it from home"
8. Beauty treatments can be performed at home too. In the photo, a hairdresser is removing a customer’s facial hair and dying the hair on her head. "More and more women want to go blonde," says photographer Khosravi
9. Samaneh Khosravi also visited Iran’s huge beauty salons, where women don’t have to cover up because men are not allowed in. A regular manicure is important to many Iranian women, she says: "Some will go without a trip to a restaurant to pay for it"
Khosravi hopes her pictures show that even religious women in Iran don’t dress like the widespread cliches in Europe. "Many religious women do cover up but wear bright colours – some people in Germany think they walk around in black chadors every day"
11. A black chador can be useful for getting from A to B, though. An acquaintance of the photographer is all made up for a wedding and has put one on over her evening dress. She can take it off at the ceremony, as men and women celebrate weddings separately in Iran
12. In cities in particular, women celebrate the beauty cult. "The young generation has managed to find its ideal between modern and traditional," says Khosravi – despite the restrictions in society