Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Around the World: Iran

Around the World will be an occasional series celebrating the female bodybuilders of a particular country, and examining any issues peculiar to muscle women there.

Today, we bring you a somewhat depressing update on the situation in Iran.


Now I guess all of us would like female muscle to gain more mainstream acceptance in our own countries, but the situation for Iranians should remind us that we should perhaps count our blessings a little more often, because the chances are at least female bodybuilding isn't - to all intents and purposes - ILLEGAL where you live.


The official website of Iranian judiciary reported last week that a number of what it referred to as "half-naked female Iranian pseudo-athletes" have been summoned to court, according to the English-language Iranian Radio Zamaneh.

Their crime? Participating in a bodybuilding competition.

Naturally this competition didn't take place in Iran, where female bodybuilding is considered - even (officially) by the Iranian Bodybuilding Federation - to be "at odds with the values of the Islamic Republic and the dignity of women".

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You couldn't make it up.

It's all about the Islamic Republic's enforcement of the so-called "Islamic" dress code for women. Basically, any activity that requires them to shed the hijab is forbidden.

Even if the shedding takes place outside Iran.


In a series of interviews with Iranian FBBs after the announcement of the charges, dissident news source Shahrvand reported that five years ago as many as six women were fined and had their passports confiscated as they attempted to travel to Dubai to take part in a fitness competition. Now the situation seems even more precarious.

Iranian women who have chosen to participate internationally can no longer return to the country, according to "Samira", a female bodybuilder of 38 who has been training for 18 years and works as a coach in Tehran. "Neda", another Iranian FBB, is currently planning to escape and compete in the US. She told Shahrvand that there is no place for women’s bodybuilding or even physical fitness in Iran.


The national bodybuilding federation is (quite understandably) towing the official line, pleading that they were ignorant of the women travelling abroad, suspending the four coaches involved, and promising not only to abide by the judges' decision on the matter, but also to impose its own disciplinary sanctions on the women.

And yet...

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Iranian women still defiantly go to the gyms (that will have them) and build muscle.

Their bodies, you might say, are their protest.


And I'd tell you who they were if I wasn't so worried that some spook of the Islamic Republic might be reading these very words, but one place you can find some still pumping up in Iran is the Iranian Muscle Girls Society on Facebook.

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