TEHRAN--It wasn't that long ago when the job of fashion model would have been unthinkable--and even considered indecent--in the strict Islamic nation of Iran.
In 2007, the government gave approval for "Muslim-style" fashion shows, and since then, growing numbers of young Iranian women such as Mina Davtalab have been lining up to take a "modest stroll" on the catwalk.
In late May, tall, willowy Davtalab, 19, enrolled in a fashion model training school in Tehran. She says she had been unable to find a job after graduating from high school, but thanks to the Internet, she knew all about the world of fashion models.
“I thought this job would be suitable for me,” says the 178-centimeter-tall Davtalab.
The school was established four years ago by Sharif Razavi. Now 30, the former sports trainer says about 10,000 women apply for enrollment each year at his school.
Unlike fashion models in Western nations, the students are taught not to smile and maintain a solemn countenance. At fashion shows, models are allowed to wear only traditional Islamic clothing, although they are often accessorized with the latest fashion trends.
The fashion shows have become accepted in Iran, so much so, that young women find it a lot easier nowadays to convince their parents that it is a good job opportunity.
Still, there is only a limited chance for many of them to find steady employment in their home country because Iran rarely uses female models in advertisements. Therefore, a growing number of Iranian fashion models have been making inroads into neighboring countries, such as Turkey and U.A.E., in recent years.
“It is a good opportunity to show Iranian beauties to the world,” says Navid Farid, 31, the owner of another fashion model training school in Iran.
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