Rich, bikini-clad Iranians on Instagram: ‘So, where’s the problem?’
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Plunging cleavage, mini-skirts, bleached hair and champagne: it’s all there... in the Islamic Republic of Iran. On the Instagram account "Rich Kids of Tehran," young Iranians from the Iranian elite post pictures to show off their bling. The Western media can’t believe its eyes. But in Tehran, it’s basically a non-event.
Plunging cleavage, mini-skirts, bleached hair and champagne: it’s all there... in the Islamic Republic of Iran. On the Instagram account "Rich Kids of Tehran", young Iranians from the Iranian elite post pictures to show off their bling. The Western media can’t believe its eyes. But in Tehran, it’s basically a non-event.
It’s THE most talked about Instagram in the Western media right now. The Iranian account is based on the "Rich Kids of Instagram," an account that reposts photos of young and wealthy Americans. "Rich Kids of Tehran" shares photos that young Iranians have posted showing the gleaming bodywork of their luxury cars, their poolside afternoons with friends at private villas, and their lavish parties. More than 90,000 followers tune into this account to get glimpses of these glamorous lifestyles.
If the Kim Kardashian-style pics are intriguing so many people, it’s because they were taken in Iran. It’s a country where alcohol is forbidden, where women must be veiled and wear loose clothing in public and where even men are advised to adopt “Islamic hairstyles."
These photos were all posted on the “Rich Kids of Tehran" account. FRANCE 24 blurred the faces of the people shown.
“We will keep partying until it becomes ‘legal’"Maryam, a wealthy Iranian, has an Instagram account herself and knows the "Rich Kids of Tehran" group. She asked to remain anonymous for this article.
This isn’t the first page of its kind on Facebook or Instagram [Editor’s note: Other accounts, such as The Persian Life, also show similar photos]. The difference is that this one has shot to fame… but we don’t really understand why.
A lot of people are shocked, especially by the cleavage shown by some of the girls in the photos. And yet, in Iran, it’s not out of the ordinary. Boys and girls here like to dress stylishly, be a little seductive and take pictures of themselves next to the pool in the summer. We don’t give a hoot what the government thinks. For us, posting these photos isn’t taboo. One of my friends even said, “We’ll keep partying until it becomes legal".
“These photos are most often taken in people’s private homes"
The Western media has preconceived notions about Iran, but a wealthy Iranian is going to have the same pastimes as a European or an American... and the same desire to show off photos of themselves having fun. Lots of young people in Tehran like imitating the West. These photos are most often taken in people’s private homes and are rarely taken in the street, in plain view. In the eyes of the West, Iranian society is as conservative as our politicians. But the reality is entirely different.
When this Instagram account started to create a buzz, some people got scared. The administrators actually took down some photos at the request of those shown in the pictures with, for example, bottles of alcohol. Others asked for all photos showing their faces to be removed. But the majority of us still want to show ourselves and our lives on social media.
If they want to arrest us for what we are doing, then they will have to also arrest a large majority of Iranians because many of us don’t respect word for word the Islamic laws.
For now, Iranian authorities have not investigated the people whose photos were posted on "Rich Kids Of Tehran". This is surprising, as they are often swift to stifle young people when they adopt Western ideals too publicly. In May 2014, a group of young people were arrested after they filmed a parody of Pharrell Williams’ song "Happy". Authorities said the “vulgar clip" had “hurt public chastity".
So, are the "rich kids" privy to certain privileges? When interviewed by the British newspaper The Times of London, one consultant living in Tehran explained the fathers of many of these rich kids are so powerful, so "untouchable" that their children are not worried about the consequences for their behaviour.
Our Observer, Maryam, has a different view of the Iranians posting the photos:
I know a lot of them personally. Most of these kids’ families have nothing to do with the country’s authorities. One of them, for example, is the son of the representative of an international jewel firm. It is possible that the children of Iranian politicians take these kind of photos, too, but the photos don’t end up on social media because they would cause too many problems for the families.
Faced with growing international buzz, the administrators of the “Rich Kids" account removed its profile picture of a woman in a bikini and replaced it with a photo of the Iranian capital. And while Instagram is a site usually permitted in Iran, the page became inaccessible on Thursday.