This story originally aired on September 8, 2018.
Sara Jamshidi grew up in Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. She remembers when her mother could wear sunglasses and mini-skirts on hot summer days, before the new fundamentalist government made laws about what women could and could not wear.
As a teenager Sara found small ways to rebel against the dress code, and the morality police who enforced it: She wore high ponytails underneath her hijab that let her hair show through the scarf, and wore fitted manteaus that accentuated the shape of her body. Even at a young age she felt that it was up to her, not her government, to decide how to dress her own body.
"Men do not have to cover, they do not have to wear scarves, they do not have to have long sleeves, why should I?" she says.
As an adult Sara became a journalist and wrote often about being a woman in a conservative Muslim society. She worked for newspapers that were shut down by the police, and worked for editors who were arrested and sometimes tortured for publishing things the government did not want in the open. Eventually Sara’s name was blacklisted as an enemy of the state, and she knew that it was time to leave the country.
Sara immigrated to Seattle and continued to work as a journalist. Living in the United States, she discovered that there were other ways to control women besides enforcing strict dress codes.
"[I saw that] Muslim women were seen in their dress and cultural traditions as being un-Westernized and therefore somehow inferior," she says. Sara went on to found her own media organization, Goltune, with the goal of celebrating and destigmatizing modest fashion for Muslim women.