We don’t need no education…

“Fashion”, Mohammed assured me, is what these haircuts are called in Farsi. Fortunately they’re not called “fashionable”, but it’s close enough to be worrying.

Iranian Hairstyles


“These haircuts can get you imprisoned”, Amin boasted. “The authorities forced me to cut my hair before when it was getting too long”, he added. Maybe the regime is not all bad, i thought to myself before getting serious again.

Where the government’s lines can be pushed, they are, and although it may sound trivial to some, haircuts are one of the many frontiers in the social reforms taking place in iran.

‘Bad hejab’, the celebrated sliding-headscarf, is talked about all over the Western media as the ultimate barometer of Iranian social freedoms. However, it really is only one of a dozen areas where people are pushing the boundaries.

Foreign music, raunchy manteaus (!), satellite TV, playing cards (yep, they’re still illegal), booze, illicit dating .. it all goes on, seemingly more intensively because it’s not allowed.

Don’t be fooled by the image propagated by the government that Iranians are all dour pious types. Iranians love to have fun. Ask any Iranian who’s moved to the West and they’ll tell you that you’ve never seen crazier parties than those in Tehran.

Why do Iranians flout the rules so? Because the country is like one big school. There’s a ‘principal’ who sets the rules and lots of lesser ‘teachers’ who enforce the discipline. There are even student ‘prefects’, the ones who get preferential treatment from the teachers for selling out their classmates. There’s even a uniform.

So, it’s not surprising that people want to rebel. And what makes it worse is that this ‘education’ doesn’t seem to be leading anywhere. It’s like being told to be obedient in R.E. (religious education) because it’ll enhance your career prospects. Not likely.

It’s also no coincidence that Pink Floyd is still ridiculously popular in Iran, as Mohammad’s mobile phone will testify. We don’t need no education. Well not religious education, anyway.

Mohammad’s passion for Western music doesn’t stop with Roger Waters. He asked me if I liked the “eegels”. I told him that I didn’t know who they were, but then he started singing Hotel California and I cottoned on.

“Oh, the Eagles“, I replied. “Of course”, I lied, unconvincingly. We moved swiftly on to what music I listened to.

“Erm, have you heard of Jeff Buckley? The Arctic Monkeys?” I suggested, trying to find common ground without sacrificing all taste. Mohammad’s blank look suggested a no but Amin seemed to be searching for some sort of response.

“Espice Girls?” shot-back Amin, with a knowledgeable raise of the (possibly plucked?) eyebrow.

“Not at all. No they’re definitely not cool”, I replied, getting worried.

“Oh, my sister likes them”, justified Amin, “too girly for me”.

“What’s ‘cool’?”, Mohammad asked, still slightly hurt by my evident lack-of-love for the Eagles. Wow, with the all the craving for Western style, I’d have thought that ‘cool’ would have been a word they’d have understood. Surely ‘cool’ was international?

“Umm, it’s when something is really good”, I said, instantly realising that explaining ‘cool’ is not an easy thing to do. Especially not in my less-than-perfect Farsi.

“Err, if you are comfortable doing what you want, that’s cool”, I added.

“So my hair, ‘fashion’, it’s cool?” pleaded Mohammed.

“Definitely”, I said, trying to wrap-up our brief encounter.


“Oh, before you go, can you tell me what this says on my t-shirt?”, asked Amin, pointing to a badge above a picture of an eagle on his shoulder [see pic above].

I read it to him: “US Air Force”, before explaining what that meant in Farsi.

“Cool”, Mohammed and Amin agreed, and then headed off home.

4 Responses to “We don’t need no education…”

  • An interesting read…we have exactly the same cuts here in Jordan, absolutely hysterical. Is there a name for them? The one on the right is a shocker. Keep up the good work Haj

  • ola !!
    nice work and very nice writing
    love it
    keep going it is fabulous and about time someone represented the half half i mean we are a minority right? eh? eh?
    or are we soon gonna be majority…hope so …

  • Nice work boyo, i like it…although you will always be as whiteboy as me in my eyes (that’s what i call a half insult, half compliment). love the hairstyles – very much along the line of Japanese style too. although i think out here it is more a statement of “let’s look like a bunch of idjuts” than screw the government. but fashion is fashion i guess.

    keep it up brother

  • I really like the colors here on your blog. did you design this yourself or did you outsource it to a professional?

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