Inside the Middle East

Bold, brilliant and beautiful: A look at Iranian women

Stacey Lastoe, CNNPublished 26th June 2018
(CNN) — Bronx-born photojournalist Randy H. Goodman says her journey to and interest in Iran happened kind of by accident.
The year was 1979, the US Embassy in Tehran was under siege, and Goodman, who had studied politics and not photography, jumped at the opportunity to travel to a nation in the midst of revolution.
On assignment with CBS-TV News not long after her first venture to the Middle East, in 1981, Goodman began photographing the women of Iran in various states -- in prayer, on the streets, in transit.
She would return in 2015 to a markedly different Iran, one where women wore makeup in public and colorful head scarves. The scarves, often pushed back on the head, symbolized a push for change.
At the exhibition's June 2018 opening reception in The Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York, Goodman explained that she longed to further capture the richness of the culture and people, and added: "If I don't do it now, it might never happen."

A changing world

Mother and Child, 1980.
Mother and Child, 1980.
Courtesy Randy H. Goodman/Bronx Museum of the Arts
She saw a society in the midst of transformation, evidenced in the way Iranian women dressed and depicted in her color photographs of women seemingly testing the boundaries.
"In societies where gender segregation exists, you have to look more closely," Goodman explained to the crowd gathered. And, indeed, upon close inspection, the photos reveal confident-looking, proud women driving taxi cabs, engaging in prayer, riding the subway -- living life.
When Goodman opened the conversations to questions, one attendee was compelled to ask Goodman to try to describe Iranian women in one sentence.
Presumably hesitant to whittle down four impassioned decades of work into a single line, Goodman hesitated.
But another member in the audience answered for her: "Bold, brilliant and beautiful. More so than any other women in the world."
The exhibition, "Iran: Women Only" is on display at The Bronx Museum of the Arts through September 23, 2018.