First it was immodest dress causing earthquakes; now, Iranian authorities are cracking down on "sun-tanned women and young girls who look like walking mannequins." Is the problem the sun, or the women? (Watch The Young Turks debate Iran's crackdown.) Here's a look at Iran's war on suntans:
What's the problem with being tan?
Tehran police chief Brig. Hossien Sajedinia, who issued the warning, said tanning amounts to "social misbehavior by women...who defy our Islamic values." Exposing female skin to the sun's rays also presumably goes against Iranian law, which stipulates that women must wear a headscarf and a covering cloak called a manteau.
If women are supposed to be covered up, how will authorities judge tans?
Many women, especially in Tehran, openly flout the strict dress code, spending heavily on barely "legal" fashion. These women — already on thin ice, legally — will be easy marks for the tanning police. According to Sajedinia, the police "are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them."
Is there another motive at play here?
London's Telegraph calls the sartorial crackdown part of a "scaremongering campaign" against opposition protesters. And with Iran's government "out of favor with a considerable portion of the population," says the blog Palestine Note, Tehran has a strong incentive to "scapegoat" women. Salon's Tracy Clark-Flory, on the other hand, says "this war on suntans" is an annual summer event, as Iran's religious police battle women who seek "relief from the extreme heat" by shedding as many layers as possible.
Will there be a "Boobquake"-style backlash to this edict?
Maybe. Althea Manasan suggests in Canada's National Post "an international Wear Your Bikini to Work Day." But Salon's Clark-Flory has a less-splashy "single tool of protest" in mind: "SPF 85."