On first glance, the photo looks like just another celeb selfie — prone to trolling, but no different from any other Instagram post.
But to Sadaf Taherian, the image meant leaving home, losing her career, and making a life-changing statement.
According to The Telegraph, the Iranian actress has been forced to flee her country after posting several photos of herself on social media. Her crime? Showing her hair uncovered.
The reaction online after she posted the photos initially was mixed: They received more than 10,000 likes, especially as her story gathered steam, but the comments included insults, with some calling the actress "immoral."
The Iranian government's response, however, was pretty clear. Officials publicly lashed out at both Taherian and another actress who had come to her defense. Taherian was banned from acting and her television show was pulled from the state-run airwaves.
“As far as this ministry is concerned, these two individuals are no longer considered to be artists anymore and do not have any right to act,” Hossein Noushabadi, a spokesman for the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance in Tehran, said, according to The Telegraph.
Noushabadi reportedly demanded that both women issue public apologies and admit that they posted the photos only because they "suffer from lack of esteem and have psychological and personal complexes.”
Despite recent stories of a less stringent fashion culture in Tehran, it is still illegal for a woman in Iran to walk outside without a head covering. Taherian has few regrets, however.
"No, I am really not afraid," she told journalist Masoumeh Alinejad in a translated interview. "At this moment, with the freedom of thought and choice that I have, I will try to work nonstop to get to the point where those that insult me will then encourage me."
Taherian went on to say that she felt suffocated by the rules, and wanted to leave Iran. "Most of what bothered me about what was happening behind the scenes in Iranian cinema were the conversations that would take place," she said, adding that men would often demand certain things in exchange for their support: "'If I don't want it to happen, you will not be on screen'; 'If I don't want it, you will not have a contract'; 'If I don't support your career, you will never become a star'; 'You have to be with me.' These 'you have to be's' really bothered me."
گفتگوی مسیح علی نژاد با صدف طاهریان در تبلت
گفتگوی این هفته تبلت با صدف طاهریان بازیگر ایرانی که عکس های بدون حجاب او با واکنش رسانه های داخل ایران، کاربران شبکه های اجتماعی و همچنین موضع گیری سخنگوی وزارت ارشاد جمهوری اسلامی مواجه شد.Iranian actress Sadaf Taherian unveiling on Instagram made headlines this week. In the State media the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ministry of culture called her “immoral” for posting such photos.In this week’s TABLET Masih Alinejad interviews Sadaf Taherian (English subtitles).تبلت هر هفته پنجشنبه ها ساعت یازده و شش دقیقه شب به وقت ایران از تلویزیون صدای آمریکا پخش می شود.خبرنگار و مجری؛Masih Alinejadتهیه کننده:Saman ArbabiBroadcasted on VOA TV:http://ir.voanews.com/media/video/3018924.htmlPosted by Masih Alinejad on Wednesday, 28 October 2015
One Facebook post on Taherian's official page quoted fellow actress Parvaneh Massoumi's reported response to the photos.
"I am 100% against this act, and I believe anybody who lives in this society should respect the laws within it," Taherian quoted Massoumi as saying to an Iranian site. "Hijab is the law in our country, and by taking off our hijab, we’re disrespecting the law, and this is committing the biggest crime."