‘My Stealthy Freedom’ was created in Tehran, Iran and reflects on forced hijab, the much hated symbol of opression for so many Iranian women. Additionally, I wished to break through the stereotype image that many Westerners have of Iran, to create a series that can build a bridge, to connect, so that we can all recognize each other across cultures.
Every day, Iranians, especially the women, defy the regime courageously by small acts of defiance. By wearing the headscarf too low, the colors too bright, the pants too tight or the manteaux too short. Together these constant acts of bravery are affecting change, slowly but visibly evolving. The regime on the other hand responds to these small acts of rebellion with regular crack-downs – when women are arrested and harassed – and by creating new laws, like the recent ban for women to ride a bicycle.
This project came together with amazing and brave women offering to work with me. With the windows of my Tehran apartment covered in tinfoil so that the flash would not be visible from the outside, we were safe to create and let creativity flow. The women threw their brightly colored hijabs in the air and I captured this act of defiance.
Below you’ll find a few reflections of their feelings:
“As a girl, I did not wanted to follow a rule that was forced on me! But I had to, coz if something is not obeyed here, there will be consequences! And I did not wanted to trouble myself or my family in any way! So I followed but that did not made me a believer! From the time I went to school I always heard that we all are brothers & sisters! That we are all equal! But in real life.. well there was no equality! Coz I had to cover up for the men! How is that equal?! How come they didn’t have to cover up for me?!”
“Revolution happened Iran before I was born , two years before so when I grew up I thought this is how it must be, women should look like that, but when I checked my mom’s photo or I saw movies I found a paradox, why there is difference between us and the other little girls in other countries? I grew up with this paradox, all my teenage hood and after it I had this war inside myself that I didn’t want to wear scarfs or long shirts, I wanted to have wind in my hair, being exposed to sunlight like a normal person! But I didn’t get the real truth until the government made some special police for compulsory hijab called “gashte ershad ” when I got arrested by police and they treat me like a criminal (taking my photo with name , fingerprint,..) I got the bitter truth, I felt like a bird getting stuck in a cage, my natural way of living is different than the way our government and society forced me to be, all my life I tried to respect others believes but literally no one in government has respected mine, at least it has been 10 years that every time I want to go out I felt someone’s oppression and injustice on my head, I really feel imprisoned in scarf and hijab.”