You’ve no doubt seen Sharbat Gula’s photo — she’s the Afghan woman with piercing green eyes who as a girl was featured on the cover of National Geographic in 1985 — but until now, you’ve probably never heard her voice. Gula recently sat down for an exclusive interview with the BBC following her deportation to Afghanistan from Pakistan where she had lived as a refugee for 35 years and spoke candidly about the decisions she’s made and the hardships she’s faced.
Gula, now in her forties, has said that she was only 10 years old when the iconic photo of her was taken. The photo, she told the BBC, was initially more of a burden than a blessing — and perhaps even led to her arrest in Pakistan. Now, she says, the photo has become a source of pride.
“Before this I was a villager, I did not like the photo and the media,” she explained. “Now I am very happy that it gave me honor and me popular among people. The income from the photo has helped a lot of widows and orphans. Now I am proud of it.”
In the end, Gula said that among her chief regret was having gotten married so young. “If I could go back to being 10 again, I would have studied,” she mused. “I wouldn’t have married at 13.”
Watch the interview below.