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ajardini's picture

Sr. Editor

It may be tough for Westerners with closets full of thongs and skinny jeans to wrap our heads around the head wrap, but let's give it a go.

This stunning photograph by Shirin Neshat depicts a woman wearing a chador (the Iranian version of the hijab, or traditional Islamic covering worn by Muslim women) and speaks to the sometimes conflicting aspects of identity for Middle Eastern women.

Neshat explores the oppositions of oppression and freedom of expression. The chador is seen by many Muslim women as a way to prevent sexualization from men, a way to achieve equality. But there is also a long history of persecution woven into this iconic garment. Does covering up save you from pervs or does it let them win? You may ask yourself the same question before heading out in a mini skirt.

The poetry written across the woman’s face and body is by an artist who wrote during the Islamic revolution. For the artist, poetry becomes a free space for a woman’s voice and perspective. The writing is influenced by tattooing traditions in Middle Eastern and Indian cultures, but also symbolizes the laws and cultural assumptions that are prescribed to women, those that might as well be burned upon our skin.