The choices that make me

Maddie Almodovar, Editor-in-Chief

As a teenager, it is easy to get so wrapped up within my own world, that I fail to be educated and aware of my environment. With such an ever-expanding universe, I have made it a priority to better educate myself about things that happen locally, nationally and internationally. 

On Sept. 16, Iranian woman Mahsa Amini had died at the hands of police brutality. Since then, the following three weeks have sparked protests against the dress code in Iran and in the United States. Posts about the injustice of her death have popped up on my social media feed.

According to Human Rights Watch, the strict dress code in Iran was implemented and enforced by the morality police after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The law forces women to wear hijabs as early as the age of seven, as well as the prohibition of “tight-fitting clothes.” Consequently, there have been multiple accounts of women in Iran, attempting to rebel against the rigid laws put against their choosing of style.

According to the Washington Post, Amini was arrested for “wearing her veil too loosely.” After her arrest, she was taken to the hospital because she had fallen into a coma and died three days after. 

Her death has caused an uprising in protests, consisting of Iranian women cutting their hair and burning their hijabs. It is not simply women in Iran, but influencers on TikTok have also shaved their heads and cut their hair  to show solidarity with the women in Iran. 

It’s damaging to young girls everywhere, when women have to lose their lives because of the choices they make, let alone the simple choice of what they wear when they step outside of their door. This year, it seems as if women have been losing choices rather than gaining them. First, women in America lose their ability to choose for their healthcare and women in Iran are restricted to what they can wear.

For some reason, it’s easy for people in power to take the little opportunities that women already have and use them to demonstrate their authority over women. It is unfair and unjust, as 2022 has demonstrated that women should have the same–if not more–opportunities as their male counterparts. 

Mahsa Amini was only 22, an age that is not too far from my age, 17. It was not only Amini; this was an attack on women and their choices everywhere. It is not only women who are affected, but society as a whole. If those in power attack women’s choices, everyone’s ability to choose is at stake too.

Although the protests in Iran are geographically far from me, I am just as affected as the women there. Their fight for their right to choose is my fight as well. The least I can do is educate and spread awareness of their fight, which leads to solidarity. 

It is important to recognize the privilege we have when it comes to what we wear, as women in Iran struggle to evade the morality police in order to be safe. I am fortunate enough to live in a country where I am able to express myself through what I wear and not get physically harassed or penalized by people in power. For example, my position in Bonita Vista High’s student-run publication the Crusader allows me to write about this fight for freedom freely.

It is not necessary to shave your head or fly across the world to participate in the protests, but I encourage you to do further research on the morality police and the power they exploit against Iranian citizens. The fight isn’t over until justice is served to everyone.