One woman wears her head scarf adorned with crystal-covered triangle jewelry, a nose ring, and electric-orange lipstick. Another blows a kiss to the camera, hand on the hip of her moto jacket. A third woman strikes a regal pose, her chunky cocktail ring worn over her gloves. These young Muslim ladies are from New York, London, and Paris, and they are captured vividly in photographs by Sara Shamsavari, a British artist of Iranian heritage.
Shamsavari's portraits are striking not only in the beauty and vibrancy of her subjects, but in the way they bust the myth that there is only one type of Muslim woman or one way to wear the hijab. In the West, where the hijab can be frequently portrayed as a symbol of oppression, it's beautiful to see women who wear the symbol of their faith with style and pride. By avoiding the typical clichés and letting her subjects' personalities speak, Shamsavari's photographs occupy a space somewhere between portrait, street-style document, and political statement.
We spoke with Shamsavari about her "Veil" series of portraits, which she says are inspired by the ideals of non-judgment, equality, and unity. "There are so many kinds of beauty," she says, "but theirs is one that has not yet been widely celebrated."