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The Golden Globes Are Over, But We Need to Talk About This Powerful Dress

Sepideh Moafi reminds us the Iranian revolution is still ongoing and we need to talk about it.

Sepideh Moafi in a black dress with a large red flower on the hip, on the red carpet for the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards

Iranian American actress Sepideh Moafi’s dress at the Golden Globes is a reminder that the Iranian revolution is ongoing and we need to pay attention to it—along with the horrendous human rights abuses being perpetrated by the current regime.

The L Word: Generation Q actress’ black sequinned dress is dominated by a large red poppy on her hip, on which the names of all the protesters hanged by the Iranian government are written out in Persian calligraphy.

Reminiscent of memorial poppies and Gabrielle Union’s Met Gala dress, the red flower also represents the blood of innocent people shed to further a corrupt and violent regime.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times on the red carpet, Moafi said, “There are many stories in this dress, but the most important of which is this flower, which represents a blooming Iran. It’s colored red because we can’t deny the amount of people who have died over the past 44 years under the Islamic Republic.” 

Explaining that the petals contain the names of those who’ve been hanged by the government for their participation in protests against state violence and repression Moafi said it was a way of “saying their names on a global platform,” something especially significant as the rosette also contains the names of those at imminent risk of hanging. Iranian activists both in Iran and the diaspora have been campaigning to make the names of endangered protesters trend on social media, using hashtags such as #saytheirnamestosavetheirlives, as focusing mass international attention on at-risk individuals has proved to be one of the few ways to secure their release or commute death sentences.

A collaboration between Moafi and artists and designers Amir Tagh and House of Milad, the other aspects of the dress also bear layers of nuanced symbolism referring to the revolution and the atrocities committed against its people by the government of Iran. Through the relationship between the fabric, Moafi’s exposed leg, and the cut in the material, the thigh-high slit represents freedom, the steps taken toward it, bodily autonomy, and freedom of choice. The black sequins represent the beautiful “shining souls” murdered en masse by the regime throughout its rule. There’s more to it still, but that’s all Moafi’s chosen to elaborate on so far, describing the dress as “a labor of love and deep gratitude” for those Iranians sacrificing everything for freedom.

Fashion is so often dismissed as frivolous and meaningless—largely because of its association with femininity—but it’s long been a vehicle for protest and social commentary, especially among women. Moafi’s gown is the most recent addition to that historic tradition, demanding the world continue paying attention to and provide aid for the people of Iran during their struggle for freedom. Currently, the Iranian government is engaged in what Amnesty International has described as a “killing spree” as part of its attempt to quell the protests and end the revolution by terrorizing the populace. Those arrested, which includes bystanders and funeral attendees as well as protesters, are being subjected to extreme torture, including sexual assault, forced confessions, and sham trials, before being executed shortly after conviction.

How can you help? Iranians continue to ask those outside the country to share the names and call for freedom for those at risk of torture and execution on social media platforms—protesters such as Armita Abbasi, who has already been subjected to extreme sexual assault and is now being denied access to lawyers and a fair trial, which will result in her execution if the government is not forced to back down. Check out the following hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok for the names of people at risk and voices you can amplify. (Links go directly to TikTok but the hashtags are in use across platforms.) #womenlifefreedom #saytheirnamestosavetheirlives #stopexecutionsiniran #stopexecutionofiranianprotestors #FreeIran

In addition to organizations like Amnesty International, follow Iranian activists on social media who are educating and updating on the situation in Iran, and follow their lead. In addition to providing regular calls to action with names to share, they also advise their followers on other ways we can help, from attending protests and rallies in your current location to contacting and pressuring your government representatives on matters such as having the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps named a terrorist organization, thereby cutting off international support.

(featured image: Matt Winkelmeyer/FilmMagic)

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