Middle Eastern women are often portrayed as oppressed; forced to hide their hair and faces by chauvinistic male-dominated cultures. Iran often becomes characterized, especially in the West, as a prime example of sexism toward women.
One Iranian photographer, based in Germany, is working to challenge these stereotypes through her photo project "Unter Fruaen" or " Among Women ."
"An idea of Iranian women is established in the world that is in contrast with reality, and therefore it is often a cause of surprise when it comes to the Iranian cult of beauty," says a crowdfunding page on Startnext for a photo book of the project.
"This photo book documents the beauty ideals of today’s Iranian society, which are hardly known outside of Iran. It focuses on the young, confident Iranian women, who define their ideal of beauty with the interplay between modernity and tradition."
Samaneh Khosravi, the photographer behind the project, has been living in Germany for the past seven years and was herself surprised to see how things had changed when she went back to embark on her project. Not only were women turning to beauticians to make them beautiful but also more and more to plastic surgeons.
For the photo series, Khosravi followed women in Iran in their homes, in public, at salons and even in plastic surgery clinics, documenting the unique beauty culture of their evolving society. The final body of work serves as an eye-opening challenge to mainstream media portrayals of Iranian culture and particularly the women inhabiting it.
Khosravi hopes that her project can help to change the perspectives of individuals who have never before considered an alternative to the stereotypical narrative. This is why she wants to publish a book of her photographs, spreading the images to a broader audience.
Through Startnext, she has already raised more than 2,400 euros ($2,689) of her 2,500 euros goal. But of course, she won't complain if she receives extra.
View the crowdfunding page here .