Iran to Mannequins: Cover it Up!

By Sadie Bass

Sep 24, 2009 9:59am

ABC's Lara Setrakian reports from Dubai: Iran’s store mannequins are too racy for the tastes of its conservative government. As of this week, authorities have ordered shopkeepers to put hijabs on the heads of their inanimate models and to keep their feminine curves covered up.   "Using unusual mannequins exposing body curves and with heads without a hijab [Muslim veils] are now prohibited to be used in the shops," said a police statement, quoted by state-owned PressTV. Local news outlets also reported that bowties and neckties were also banned from display, and that women’s underwear could no longer be sold by men.

PressTV cited the moves as “part of a campaign against Western cultural influences in the Islamic Republic.” Bowties and neckties, for example, have long been rejected by Iran’s Islamic purists as Western conventions (notice how President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his fellow officials never wear a suit).

Stamping out signs of secular culture has long been a priority of Iran’s government – the oft-repeated notion of “gharbzadegi,” best translated as “Westoxification,” has been both a stern warning and a great concern of the conservative ruling establishment. Mass access to the internet and satellite television (pirated DVDs of “Lost” are all the rage) has piqued fears of the creeping cultural influence of the West. When it comes to women’s clothing, their fears may be justified. The ever-stylish Iranian women have found ways to jazz up the mandatory hijab and roopoosh (an overcoat that reaches mid-thigh). Seemingly in response, Ahmadinejad’s government has enforced criminal penalties for clothing that pushes the limit, widely referred to as “bad hejab” (the word “bad” is the same in English and Persian). Liberal women have chafed at the crackdown.

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