Anahita and Reihane have known each other for a long time. Both friends loves meet again and organize all kinds of entertainment. Today is a ballad on Anzali lagoon with a motor boat and a stop on the bank to see wild horses. No matter the adventure, the coquetry and its young ladies go hand in hand.
Anzali lagoon. Reihane and Anahita wait for Pejman's uncle who works as a coast guard to take them to the lake.
Reihane always takes makeup and accessories that keep her at the top of her beauty. Here, she uses a small brush to untangle her hair when we have just disembark on the bank.
Anahita in Anzali Lagoon. "Look around you everything is wonderful, You must be beautiful and desirable, even in a field," she said full lung.
With her false nails, Anahita has a little trouble putting on her glasses without hurting herself
Anahita poses with her cosmetic surgeon and her friend Dr. Somayeh, who will also succumb to the attractions of a rhinoplasty.
Dr. Somayeh examines the face of Anahita carefully. She finds that the nose of her paciente is perfect as well as her lips. She recommends that Anahita stop touching her face and use botox punctually to firm certain areas.
Reihane listens attentively to Anahita who comments on her visit to the cosmetic surgeon. It is then that Reihane confides that she will make an appointment with Dr Somayeh because she does not like her eyes, too round according to her. She wished her eyes were more stretched. Anahita replied that it would be a mistake to touch that part of the face. Reihane is disappointed with her best friend Anahita's answer.
Meidan-e Jahad Metro Station, Tehran. A woman wears a bandage on each of her eyebrows. The tattooing of eyebrows proliferates in Iran as much as rhinoplasty.
A young girl who has undergone rhinoplasty walks through the bazaar of Tajrish, Tehran. According to figures from the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri, only 187 plastic surgeons are allowed to practice out of approximately 7,000 registered in Tehran City.
Valiasr street, Tehran. A young salesman who has undergone rhinoplasty is replacing his statues. More than 30% of Iranian men would have gone through the scalpel.
Two women who have undergone rhinoplasty walk on Panda-a-Khordad St. Smiling, they passed by me twice so that I could take pictures of them. Because rhinoplasty is a source of pride for many and showing it in public is a natural thing, unlike in the West.
Reihane is 30 years old. Computer engineer and software she works for the Iranian government. Her friends consider her a barbie girl by her appearance but also by her rhinoplasty; it's the name that Iranian plastic surgeons give to their pacients when they want a barbie-like nose.
Reihane spends a lot of time on social networks. Instagram is the most used app by youth in Iran. "It allows us to show ourselves as we are without any restrictions with a private account. Many of my friends also use it to flirt, "says Reihane. While she thanks her admirers for the likes received, one of the Iranian TV channels emitted from abroad is streaming fashion photos
Restaurant Pala Kabab, Rasht. Once the room plunged into semi-darkness, Reihane lights a cigarette.
Reihane and Anahita at Palal Kabab. A live performance by a group of Persian musicians makes Reihane and Anahita waddle in all directions. They would like to get up but they know that dancing in public is prohibited by Islamic law. A grandpa will make two attempts which will be immediately stopped by two restaurant staff.
Anahita and Reihane are making a selfie. The two friends are the ideal prototype of women that Iranian men are looking for. Large eyes, a well proportioned nose and a large and pulpy mouth.
Anahita puts her hijab back on before getting in the car because she knows that a poorly veiled woman leads to the immediate confiscation of the vehicle by the authorities. Pejman - a friend of Anahita - is a dentist by profession. In Iran, an implant could be more expensive than a rhinoplasty because the materials are imported.
Narin Qaleh, Meybod. Iran. Shohreh at 23 years old. She is a nurse. On the heights of the castle, she will not hesitate to unveil herself"I'm not fooled, I know when I can take it off and when I have to put it back. With time we learn to spot the danger." In recent years, she says she has not made any more photos with the hijab. "I like my hair and I want to show it via social networks".
According to Ahdieh, impose the hijab and promote cosmetic surgery is a strategy of the government. "Hijab makes you ugly. At the end of the day, you are tired and you will only see your defects, even those who have a great self-esteem, they will end up one day or another finding something that wrong on their faces.
Nazanin is 23 years old. She lives in Tehran and works in a confectionery shop. She has blue hair which is her favorite color. "When I dyed my hair, my father stopped talking to me for a week". Nazanin does not go unnoticed wherever she goes but she does not care "I'm happy like that, it's my beauty". She claims to be a feminist. "The problem is the mentality of people. If we want things to really change, we need all the people of Iran is ready to make an effort.", she said, sighing.
Milad is 19 years old. Milad like tattoos, but not the mullahs are not of the same opinion "The government does not accept my tattoos. People say that I represent the reincarnation of the devil I was arrested twice. Last time, they even tried to kill me in prison because they saw me as a suppo of Satan. "
A woman chats with a friend on Sabzen Meydan Avenue in Rasht city in northern Iran. Its innocuous look for the West is a provocation for the current Iranian regime. Unveiling her curves and her hair in public could cost her a warning and if she reoffends, jail and 75 lashes. According to activist Masih Alinejad and a source emanating directly from the Iranian police over a period of one year, more than three million 600 thousand women would have received a warning and a reprimand in public because they do not wear the hijab correctly.
On Shahrdari street, Tehran, a young woman in a hurry is spruced herself up.
Mothers and girls compete in a volleyball game at a public park in Isaphan. Curiously, Iranian law forbids women to attend a volleyball or football match, but they can play their sports
A young couple tenderly embraces in the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque also known as the Pink Mosque. Embracing in public if we are not yet married is inappropriate according to the mullahs, a gesture punishable by Iranian law.
A girl learns to ride a bike near Alexander's prison in Yazd - December 2018. Since May 14, 2019, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's fatwa proclaimed in 2016 banning women from cycling but not strictly enforced has been re-approved by the prosecutor of Isfahan.
A group of Iranian tourists from Rasht take pictures of themselves with the portrait of Zarathushtra, founder of mazdeism. Being one of the most liberal cities with Tehran, some women do not hesitate to remove the hijab in public places. Chak Chak fire temple, Yazd province.
Two girls take a break outside the mall. One of them smokes without worrying about passers-by and what people will say. Even if no law in force prohibits a woman from smoking for the time being - except in public places applied to both women and men and most of the time not respected in trendy places in northern Téhéran - very few women dare to do so on the street.
Iranian rockabily with style for these young motorcyclists in the village of Varzaneh
The strict dress code would like her two friends who walk on the square Nashq-e-Jahan in Isfahan to wear the chador. What is really not the case for one of her who prefer to use clothes contrary to the fatwa (leggins, skirt and cardigan) and moreover, punishable by the police of morals.
Clothes and a look typically "Western" for this young couple near the Jolfa Sundial square in Isfahan.
Young people head to the Vank Cathedral area to celebrate the Christian New Year.
The courage to be youreself - Iran
The Iranian youth who grew up under the restrictions of the mullahs has become fond of all cultures or the human being flourishes freely. Through the foreign channels that the middle and upper classes receive through parables and social networks, they feed on images more in line with what they would like to be and that many of them try to emulate. The use of excessive makeup, colorful haircuts, Western fashion, tattoos and cosmetic surgery - as a symbol of freedom - are becoming commonplace in the city of Rasht and the northern neighborhoods of Tehran. Transgressing his fear and what people say to have a self-image that corresponds to his desires of the moment it is as important as emancipation and clearly underlines fed up of this generation for some traditional Islamic values. An image very different from what the Ayatollahs wanted.
And then there are those bans that mainly affect women like riding a bike, attending a volleyball or football match, singing solo or having loving gestures to her boyfriend in public without being married. A long list that continues to grow because even if the laws in Iran are made and unmade according to the radicalism of the new elected prosecutor - What is forbidden can become "permissive" overnight and vice versa - extremely rare is the change of a law in favor of women and in general, it is only temporary. Cause the Iranian woman is worth only half of the man according to the justice of the Islamic Republic. Not to mention that women evolves in a patriarchal society, with a statue inferior to men. So difficult for her young ladies to face the daily.
In order to satisfy all their frustration, more and more young people they arm themselves with courage to infringe the restrictions imposed by the authorities despite the vigilance of nearly 4 million of bassidji (the police of morals) - which represents a 5% of the Iranian population - observe the facts and gestures daily lives of their fellow citizens. Some do it for adrenaline, and the vast majority denounce a lack of freedom and for to feel alive. To want to impose a battery of banned, the government has got its own setback. However, even though the regime can not control the entire population, it knows that over the years it has gained a big advantage. 40 years have passed since the revolution and nothing has really been called into question and the few attempts were quickly wiped out by the violence. The post Khomeini generation knows that the mentality of a large part of the Iranians is a brake on change and that conformism and the rise of radicalism do not augur well.
This youth, who dares to express their desire rather than strictly respect the laws of the mullahs, does not want to go unnoticed. They claim in their own way another way of emancipation, that of being accepted by their appearance and their ideas by an authoritarian society, as they are... different.
Revolutionary symbols of Iranian women: make-up and western clothing
The beauty of the Iranian woman is characterized by tattooed and sharp eyebrows in ascending shape, swollen and profiled cheeks and lips, on which botox injections are often applied to enhance them even more, and excessive make-up, from the Western point of view, to unify the face and cover all skin imperfections, perfectly maintained, long and brightly coloured nails.
Official doctrine maintains that showing a woman's hair, neck or ankles is a provocation and excites men, hence the justification for the hijab, whose use is mandatory in all public spaces. However, in some more permissive cities, it is common to see women in casual and modern clothes, in flagrant disregard of the rules imposed by the Islamic regime. Tight-fitting clothing, particularly leggings that mark the silhouette more explicitly than classic pants and that are banned by the government, have become revolutionary symbols of Iranian women.
The most daring youth show a more open face of Iran: boys in the latest Western fashion and girls pushing back strict Islamic standards, with the veil covering a minimal part of their hair or leaving strands of hair free, as a symbol of rebellion.
Iranian women reinforce what they can show, the hands and especially the face. "In Iran, it doesn't matter if you have a good body or beautiful breasts, what matters is what you see. Iranian women want to be the best, we want to be unique. Western women can show their hair or their bodies, not us. We can't show ourselves, that's why we operate and make up so much. It's the only way to show our beauty. The hijab deprives us of our freedom," says Ahdiehbr, a 21-year-old statistics student who dreams of becoming a model and travelling the world.
Rhinoplasty: a growing trend
With rhinoplasty, the Iranians intend to lower the pronounced nasal septum, distinctive of the Near East, and raise the lobe. In Tehran or Rasht, the most "permissive" or "liberal" cities in Iran, it is common to see groups of friends or couples walking in the streets with a band on their nose, an unequivocal symbol that a rhinoplasty has been performed. For Iranians, it is a source of pride to have a nose job done, and some of them still wear band long after their operation. "In Iran, rhinoplasty is not only a symbol of beauty but also of social status," explains Dr. Somayeh, a 33-year-old plastic surgeon from the city of Lahijan, Iran, who practices by example because she has a nose operation.
According to Dr. Somayeh, "Rhinoplasty is a growing trend in Iran today. In the past, rhinoplasty was performed when the patient had a problem and could not breathe properly. Now it's a fad. Many women want a smaller nose, others a more fanciful nose. However, I encourage them to be more natural and have a more symmetrical nose depending on the contour of their face. Each nose is special for each type of face. Each patient has a personalized rhinoplasty. Of course, there are still those who dream of a barbie nose.
Iranian women think their noses are too big and this affects their self-esteem. They want to look like Hollywood actresses. "The main reason why cosmetic surgery has increased so much in Iran is the decline in self-esteem," says Dr. Somayeh. When women do not find their place in society or in their lives, they try to find it in surgery. Plastic surgery for young girls has a positive effect on their self-esteem and they turn to the operating room in the hope of having a better social life and finding a good husband - because Iranian men like women with big lips, small nose and big eyes.
The face as an identity card
With the hijab and the rest of the body covered, my face becomes my priority. I love her and I invest money and time to be beautiful because that's what we'll see of you first. I think facial beauty for young Iranian women is the most important thing because it is somehow our identity card," says Ahdieh, who has undergone a barbie rhinoplasty, wears tattooed eyebrows, botoxed lips and, like the vast majority of non-religious Iranian women, uses make-up in abundance.
Reihane, 30, works for a construction company as a consulting engineer, where she designs and supervises government projects. She is single and lives with her mother in a cosy little apartment. She earns a good salary and invests a large part of it in operations, beauty treatments and make-up. She has undergone a rhinoplasty and dreams of having her eyes operated on, because according to the young woman "without make-up my eyes are very round and I wish I had stretched them more". She also wears an orthodontic appliance to obtain "well aligned and perfect teeth", she emphasizes. In Iran, dentistry is more expensive than some cosmetic procedures because the materials used must be imported from other countries. Her nails are perfectly cared for, very long and sharp, but without colour, and her blond hair is discoloured. Its style is reminiscent of a Barbie doll. "Iranian women always try to be perfect, for us beauty is very important. We want to be beautiful, first for ourselves and then to live better on a daily basis," she continues, "We have learned to live in a macho system, but when we find ourselves at home, with friends, reality is different. I would like to be able to regain the feeling of freedom that I feel at home wherever I go.
"In Iran, there is such an obsession with beauty that even in hospitals, my colleagues wear make-up and painted nails," says Setare, a nurse by profession who has not accepted to be photographed. "In hospitals, the norm is not to wear makeup. However, they all do it except me, which is why I am being treated by my old-fashioned colleagues."
Haircuts, colours and tattoos such as rebellion
Tattoos are not prohibited by law in Iran, but they are rejected by the Iranian authorities. Tattoo artists seeking to work in the country face fines, flogging or imprisonment. Milad, a 19-year-old boy, broke the rules by getting a full body tattoo, which cost him serious problems with people and the police. "The government doesn't accept my tattoos; people say I represent the reincarnation of the devil. I've been arrested twice. Last time, they even tried to kill me in prison because they saw in me a suppo of Satan. In Iran I can only be a frustrated person," says Milad. "I would like a lot to change in Iran, but what I will start with is not for the government, but for Iranian society, for the mentality of the people.
Nazanin, 21, is not a fan of cosmetic surgery or botox. For Nazanin "beauty is in the hearts, smiles and eyes of women. Some women who have had surgery and are botoxed become real monsters and don't even realize it. However, Nazanin did not go unnoticed due to the color of his hair. "One day, I cut my hair and dyed it blue, which is my favorite color. When I came home, my father was very angry and he stopped talking to me for a week," says the young woman. Her transgression cost her a lot of trouble with her family, but it is her way of going against a government that oppresses women and forces them to wear the hijab, a garment she wears negligently, exposing almost all her blue hair cut in the Western way.
"Everything is a possible"
"In the street, everything is appearance," explains Shoreh, a young nurse from Rasht who clearly defies the rules imposed by the Islamist regime, "You can't smoke in public, you can't drink... In reality, everything is a possible. Everywhere you can find alcohol, imported tobacco and other substances, just ask in your establishments (hotels, restaurants and even supermarkets) to get what you want. Women smoke in cafés, the most daring, in a hidden street in Tehran or Rasht. The vast majority of the Iranian population is not religious. We had to adopt the Muslim religion out of obligation, but we are not practitioners."
"Rasht is the most permissive city in Iran," says Anahita, Reihane's friend, a make-up artist and eyebrow tattoo artist. To be at the top she uses the great means - profusion of make-up, false eyelashes, false nails - that she considers essential to see herself beautiful and attractive. "There are restaurants where they play music and people dance. If the police go through there, they fine the owners of the place. But, it's not a problem if you have money. In Iran, there is a lot of corruption due to state bans. People organize private parties and we dress in Western style, with miniskirts and sexy evening wear, drink alcohol, smoke and dance to the rhythm of Persian and Anglo-Saxon music. Although the government knows it, it can't do anything: it can't put everyone in jail."
Pala_Kebab is an exclusive and sought-after Iranian restaurant located a few kilometers from the city of Rasht where there is live music. In the darkness, pocket flasks full up to the brim alcohol make their appearance.The few centilitres of vodka poured are quickly drowned by the lemonade to avoid any trouble. The atmosphere warms up and everyone begins to waddle to the rhythm of the music sitting in their chair. Although dancing is forbidden, some daring people get up and start making some hip movements that are immediately interrupted by the restaurant staff and gently force them to sit down; when the light intensifies again, they put their veils back on and extinguish their cigarettes.
"We want our social rights back."
Under the regime of the mullahs, Muslim scholars, women lost all their social rights. Even though they can go to university and be doctors or engineers, they will be under male supervision for the rest of their lives. Their father or husband will decide whether they can study or work. The government also employs thousands of undercover agents, the so-called vice police or bashashi, to enforce the rules imposed by the Islamist regime.
Iran accuses women who remove their hijab of inciting prostitution. Every Wednesday, dozens of women reveal themselves, for about ten minutes, to protest and claim their right not to wear a hijab, defying a regime that oppresses them. The so-called White Wednesday began in December 2017, when Vida Movadeh, a 31-year-old woman, appeared in a video by waving her hijab in front of a crowd. The woman was arrested but the images of her protest were viralized, inspiring more and more women. Lawyer and human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes for defending women who had kidnapped their hijab.
Mobina, a young psychology student at Tehran University and a close friend of Nazanin, says that "no one wants this government, no one likes the laws imposed by the state. Too many prohibitions.... But everyone is afraid. The state controls everything and everyone. I have no hope of change with the current government. We women feel oppressed.