An Iranian woman has been sent to prison for ten years after posting edited images on Instagram.
Going by the name of Sahar Tabar on Instagram before her account was deactivated last year, the 19-year-old used heavy makeup and photo editing to create a “Zombie Angelina Jolie” look, which impressed thousands of fans.
Her real name is Fatemah Khishvand, and she was sentenced to ten years in December 2020 for charges of corrupting young people and showing disrespect for the Islamic Republic.
With almost half of a million followers before her Instagram account was taken down, Khishvand was first arrested on 5 October 2019 and charged with several offenses, including violating the national dress code, money laundering, and blasphemy.
Days later, three more women were arrested — also prominent on Instagram in Iran.
After her arrest on Iranian television, Khishvand told the public that her photos were edited using Photoshop and that she did not actually look like she did in the doctored images. She used several before and after photos to show her real face.
Through her Instagram posts, she had hoped to gain fame by appearing as a “Corpse Bride” character. Despite this, there were many rumors that she had undergone substantial cosmetic surgery to achieve the look.
I call on Angelina Jolie to help an Iranian 19-year-old girl who received 10 years prison sentence for using makeup & Photoshop to turn herself into Angelina.
Islamic Republic has a history of tormenting women. We need to be united against this gender apartheid pic.twitter.com/Z5Y8yMsY76
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 11, 2020
Following the interview and subsequently assessed from medical records, Khsihvand appeared to have a psychological disorder and chased fame through Instagram, receiving high praise from her followers, which only encouraged her to continue with the posts.
Her mother, who sought to discourage her daughter’s social media venture, is hoping Khishvand will be released from prison.
Masih Alinejad, an Iranian activist-journalist, explained: “Her joke landed her in jail. Her mother cries every day to get her innocent daughter freed.”
In April 2020, while Fatemeh Khishvand was being detained in prison awaiting her sentence, she contracted COVID-19. Khishvand’s attorneys appealed for her release, but it was denied.
Alinejad has also appealed to Angelina Jolie herself, asking for assistance in Khishvand’s case.
She said in a brief video: “I call on Angelina Jolie to help an Iranian 19-year-old girl who received 10 years prison sentence for using makeup & Photoshop to turn herself into Angelina. Islamic Republic has a history of tormenting women. We need to be united against this gender apartheid.”
When it comes to her alleged plastic surgery, Khishvand had explained: “This is photoshop and makeup. Every time I publish a photo, I paint my face in an increasingly funny way. It is a way of expressing yourself, a kind of art. My fans know that this is not my real face.” Her fans have pointed to warped backgrounds as evidence of her photos being photoshopped. Nevertheless, she has reportedly admitted to having “a nose job, enlarged mouth and liposuction.”
Social media fame and religion are not a good mix in Iran.