Fashion, Freedom, and Female Agency: Iranian Women’s Deconstruction of Identity in Citizen Journalism
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For close to a century in Iran, the female body has been the site for authorities to assert and exercise their political and ideological control over half of the population. Our paper explores how women in the Islamic Republic of Iran imagine and enforce their agency in the virtual space and redefine their identity by creating distinctively individualized styles in garments in the 21st century. While the representation of women and outfits used in photographs in the virtual space do not always take up the dress code boundaries formulated by the Islamic government, they are deliberately depicted in the Internet to contest the image of the Muslim woman that was preferred and propagated by theologians. Iranian women’s deconstruction of dress codes and recreation of an individualized fashion is a reactive ideological tool. The reconstructed image challenges the state sponsored depiction of the Muslim Iranian women, wrapped up from head to toe in the quintessentially Shi’a, Iranian fashion statement, the black chador, as devoted and modest. The modified fashion also contests the homogenized narratives of suppression and muteness reinforced by the veil as used by Western media to portray Iranian, Muslim, and Middle Eastern women.