Afghan models are very few and far between. The reason for this is the ethnic and social customs among the Afghans. For more facts and information, read our guide…
It is true that there are a few Afghan models. All of these live and work outside of Afghanistan, with little hope for returning safely to their homeland. They actually risk disfigurement and death should they do so. The Afghans are mostly Muslims, and in their local culture it is a disgrace for the woman and their family to be seen displaying their their bodies.
When a woman has disgraced the family and indeed committed heresy, she is subject to being punished by her family. This could include being put to death. Therefore, an Afghan woman becoming a model is not like most models as it takes a great amount of courage for them to set foot on the runway.
A Pioneer in Afghanistan
Recently the television station Emrooz decided that Afghanistan had become modern enough to watch a show patterned after America’s Top Model. Results were not exactly what the station management had been hoping for.
The station had expected that a couple of hundred people would enter the contest to appear on their show. They actually had over 3,000 applicants. Only 10 of the applicants were women. The station chose all 10 of the women applicants, along with some of the men to be contestants. After the first week, 3 of the women had dropped out, citing pressure from their families.
The remaining contestants went on. Outfits were a great deal different than you would expect a top model show to have. One outfit consisted of baggy type pants and satin tops. Another portion of the show featured contestants wearing jeans, sweaters and tennis shoes. There was even a part of the show that had the contestants wearing camouflage clothing and combat boots. Nothing in the show would be considered racy or even sexy by American and European standards.
Still, the contest was not well received by the Afghan public. Enrooz had hoped to boost its ratings with the contest, but instead it experienced a ratings drop. Afghans complained that it was
heretical for women to get in front of a television camera and show off their faces and their bodies (even though little of their bodies were displayed). It was particularly poorly received in the rural southwestern part of the country, where even now wearing only a shawl rather than a burqa is frowned upon.
What the future holds for Afghan women who wish to model is anyone’s guess. Enrooz did break new ground with its contest, and Afghanistan is more modern than it used to be. However, there is evidence that the ultra conservative Taliban is gaining more influence in the government. Should the Taliban again take over, Afghan women will again be pushed into the background and will lose any rights that they have gotten over the past few years.