Bodybuilder Shirin Nobahari was reportedly arrested and thrown into prison last month for posting “nude” images of herself on social media. But Nobahari says she wasn’t the bodybuilder who was arrested, an incident that made international headlines. In a post on her Instagram account, Nobohari told her fans not to believe the “the rumors” that were being reported in the press, according to a translation of the message. Under Iran’s strict Islamic dress code, “nude” often applies to an occurrence of a woman revealing any part of her body that the law demands must be covered up, including her arms, or simply not wearing a veil in public.
Nobahari is Iran’s first female bodybuilder and regularly posts pictures of her impressive muscles onto her public Instagram account, which had more than 67,000 followers . She has previously received warnings over photos she’d posted on the site. Now, she’s decided to speak out and tell her story.
In a short video VOA Persian, Nobahari discusses with My Stealthy Freedom founder Masih Alinejad her experiences contending with official and state boundaries, along with the social and cultural taboos that surround her chosen sport, in a country that doesn’t even officially recognize female bodybuilders. “Disregarding someone, dispiriting them and planning to make them forgotten, or not even seen at all,” she says, “are the hardest blows to a human being.”
In addition to being barred from competing in national or international events, Nobahari often lacks the proper equipment she needs to train. But she is adamant in her desire to remain in Iran, waiting for the day when she might be able to pursue her sporting dreams unencumbered by social or legal prohibitions.
Watch the full video on YouTube.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to include Nobahari’s message on social media denying reports that she had been arrested last month.