Self-portraits inspired by 19th-century Iranian beauty ideals | Art and design

In 19th-century Iran, ideals of beauty were fluid and unconstrained by gender norms: facial hair was considered fashionable for women, while men wore feminine clothes and makeup. Using wigs and prosthetics, Shirin Fathi, artist in residence at the Sarabande Foundation in London, transformed herself into three Persian archetypes for her project Heart Throbs: adolescent man, adult man, and man who mimics the look of the European dandy. “A non-binary perspective on gender and androgyny has been around for centuries,” says Fathi. “Iranian culture hasn’t always conformed to western representations. What is self-identified as feminine for Iranians is not constant, but has evolved and changed throughout history.”

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