This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals.
In this paper, we argue that Iranian women’s invention of a distinct fashion, both within the country and in the cyber space, is a revolutionary cultural response to the Islamic dress code that was imposed on half of the population following the success of the Islamic Revolution of 1979. For close to a century in Iran, the female body, through both the dehijabization (1936) and hijabization (1983) processes, has been the site for authorities to assert and exercise their political and ideological control over half of the population. Our paper explores how women in the Islamic Republic of Iran imagine and enforce their agency and redefine their identity by creating distinctively individualized styles in garments. These hybridized fashion statements challenge both the dress code boundaries defined by the Islamic Republic and the homogenized narratives of suppression and muteness reinforced by the veil as used by Western media to portray Iranian women. The theoretical framework and the ensuing methodology in this paper are informed by power dynamics and relations within Iranian social life; in our analysis, we draw on the works of Pierre Bourdieu (primarily his theory of class distinctions); Michel Foucault (power relations); Laura Mulvey (the male gaze); and Georg Simmel’s argument around “the construction of normatized notions of appearance and beauty…as fundamental element[s] of modern urban life and culture” (Adelman and Ruggi 558).