Why Iranian Women Are Dressing Like Men

Photo: Thomas Koehler/Getty Images

Iran’s infamous “morality” police patrol the country to ensure that its citizens are always adhering to conservative Islamic behavior requirements. A modest dress code is a major part of that — primarily, that women must always be wearing a hijab. (Just last week there was a crackdown on models who showed their hair on Instagram.)

But some Iranian women have found a way to get around the compulsory headscarf rule: by cutting their hair short and dressing like men.

Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad, who now lives in New York, runs a Facebook page that protests the hijab requirement, called My Stealthy Freedom. She recently shared a photo of a woman with cropped hair and pants that reads, “I am an Iranian girl. In order to avoid the morality police, I decided to cut my hair short and wear men’s clothes so that I can freely walk in the streets of Iran.”

Another features a young woman dressed as a boy, declaring, “I am a girl from Iran who has managed to get around all the restrictions to live and choose my own lifestyle.”

Sports journalist Pejman Rahbar also shared a photo of a woman who cross-dressed in order to freely watch a soccer game.

“The Government wants to create fear but women have found their own way to freely walk in the streets of Iran or drive without covering their heads,” Alinejad tells The Independent. “It is a serious cultural war between two lifestyles. For women, their hair is their identity and making it short to just avoid the morality police is really heartbreaking, but in a way, it is brave.”