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Quirky Bans In Iran

An Iranian hairstylist shows a brochure of official hairstyles in July 2010.

An Iranian hairstylist shows a brochure of official hairstyles in July 2010.

Jagged hairstyles, body tattoos, solarium treatments, and the plucking of eyebrows for men are the latest fashion statements to be banned in Iran.

But they are by no means the only things that can get a man in trouble. For years, Iranian authorities have occasionally cracked down on signs of Western influence, targeted "un-Islamic behavior," and enforced strict dress codes.

Here is a list of some of the clothing and fashion accessories that face restrictions in the Islamic republic:

Unveiled Mannequins

Iranian shopkeepers are banned from displaying female mannequins sans a hair-covering head scarf, or ones that highlight bodily curves.

"Using unusual mannequins exposing body curves and with heads without hijabs is prohibited in shops," Iranian police said in a statement in 2009.

Male shopkeepers are also banned from selling women's underwear.

Last year, Iran's Cultural Ministry unveiled what they called "Islamic mannequins."

Western Ties

Publicly wearing neckties is effectively banned in Iran. There is no written law against ties, but they are frowned upon under Iran's strict Islamic dress code. Shopkeepers tend to sell them under the counter.

Former President Mahmud Ahmadinejad outraged senior clerics in 2010 when he said it was acceptable for men to wear ties. Ahmadinejad sported open-neck shirts. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami claimed at the time that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against wearing straight ties or bow ties.

The straight tie was famously described as a "donkey's tail" by Iran's first president, Seyyad Abolhassan Banisadr.


Iran's Cultural Ministry in 2010 published a list of approved hairstyles in a bid to get rid of "decadent" Western hairstyles in the country. Ponytails, mullets, and other long hairstyles all got the chop under the new rules. However, the 1980s-style floppy fringes and Elvis-like pompadour are acceptable to Iran's Barbers Union.

The Barbers Union represents only male hairdressers in Iran, with female stylists having a separate trade organization.

Authorities said repeat offenders would face stiff fines, while barbers would have their shops closed.


Iranian men were banned from wearing necklaces in a crackdown against "un-Islamic" clothing and accessories in 2011. Other jewelry, such as earrings, was also outlawed for men.

In addition, men were warned about wearing shorts, although they can wear short-sleeved shirts. Men's jeans are also frowned upon.

Iranian state TV in 2011 aired an interview with a young Iranian man who said wearing jeans had hazardous effects on a man's testicles and rendered men infertile.

Bright Clothing

As part of its national campaign against Western cultural influences, authorities in 2011 enforced stricter dress codes for women at a number of universities in Iran.

The universities were given a note informing them of the new dress code but did not say on what basis the code was established.

Among the new rules was a ban on wearing skinny jeans, body piercings, and brightly colored clothes and scarves.

-- Frud Bezhan

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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