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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

5 - Youth Culture and the New Bi-Hejab Girl

from Part II - Agents of Correlation and Change


Chapter 5 examines what specific cultural meanings were applied to the modern woman by virtue of the country’s youthful age structure, reconceptualization of adolescence, and generation gap during the late Pahlavi era. Within this framework, the discussion introduces "the modern girl" that hitherto was not acknowledged as an important figure in Iranian historiography, while addressing the magazines’ engagement with the beauty culture and discussions on issues like makeup, fashion, and weight concerns. The overemphasis on the female body in women’s magazines, and their excessive promotion of social values of beauty and slenderness, conflicted with their attempts to empower femininity through representations of female determination, dedication, and educational accomplishments. Iranian editors and journalists were familiar with this conflict, and their responses become evident in two distinct and equally challenging images that receive special attention in this chapter: the Teen Princess (dokhtar-e Shayesteh) elected in Zan-e Ruz’s annual flashy beauty pageant and the female volunteers who served in the Literacy and Health Corps, after completing a short military training. In the late Pahlavi era, both these programs targeted young, single, high school graduates and college students, and substantially expanded women’s entry into the formerly segregated public sphere.