Dubbed ‘Zombie Angelina Jolie’, Sahar Tabar, an Instagram influencer from Iran, has disclosed her face after being released from prison.
The release of Tabar, who served 14 months in jail, comes amid widespread protests in the Islamic Republic over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last month who was detained by the ‘morality’ police for not wearing her hijab (Islamic headscarf) properly.
Known for her macabre pictures, the Instagrammer was arrested in 2019 on various charges including ‘blasphemy’.
Tabar’s pictures resembling the Hollywood star Jolie had gone viral on social media and at a point, the Iranian had boasted of 4,86,000 followers on Instagram.
Who is Sahar Tabar and what has she disclosed about those infamous photographs? Why was she arrested? Let’s understand.
‘Zombie Angelina Jolie’
Sahar Tabar, whose real name is Fatemeh Khishvand, shot to fame with her gaunt, ‘zombie-like’ pictures on Instagram in 2017.
She was seen sporting a razor-sharp jawline, sunken cheeks, an amplified pout, icy blue contact lenses, cartoonishly uplifted nose and washed-out skin in those images, reports The Sun.
Sahar Tabar got famous in 2017 with her macabre looks that resembled Hollywood star, Angelina Jolie. Instagram/Sahartabar_official
Born in Tehran, Tabar had led people to believe that her ghost-like look was due to a botched plastic surgery, as per Independent.
Tabar had admitted that she had undergone some cosmetic procedures, including a nose job, lip fillers, and liposuction, however, the terrifying images were a result of “makeup and editing”.
According to The Sun, the Instagram influencer told an Iranian news outlet that her infamous pictures were photoshopped.
“What you saw on Instagram was the computer effects I used to create the image,” she said.
Tabar revealed she “wanted to be famous since I was a child,” and believed that “cyberspace was an easy way.”
“It was much easier than becoming an actor,” she stated, as per The Sun.
The fake ‘zombie’ look
Earlier, Tabar had claimed she underwent more than 50 surgeries in her bid to look like the Maleficent actor.
However, in 2017, she had dropped the ruse and told Russian news outlet Sputnik that she altered the images to “amuse” herself, reports Independent.
“Every time I publish a photo, I paint my face in an increasingly funny way,” she divulged.
“It is a way of expressing yourself, a kind of art. My fans know that this is not my real face,” the Instagram influencer added.
Tabar was jailed in October 2019 for “blasphemy, instigating violence, illegally acquiring property, insulting the country’s dress code and encouraging young people to commit corruption”, as per BBC.
Her Instagram was also deleted.
As per The Guardian, Tabar had urged Angelina Jolie to campaign for her release, saying: “The Islamic Republic has a history of tormenting women. We need to be united against this gender apartheid.”
Sahar Tabar had reportedly urged actor Angelina Jolie to campaign for her release from jail. AP File Photo
In 2020, she was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Iranian-American journalist and activist Masih Alinejad had then appealed to Angelina Jolie for help.
“10 years jail for Iranian Instagramer who used make up & Photoshop to become a zombie Angelina Jolie. Sahar Tabar is only 19. Her joke landed her in jail. Her mother cries every day to get her innocent daughter freed. Dear Angelina Jolie! we need your voice here. Help us,” she wrote on Twitter in 2020.
10 years jail for Iranian Instagramer who used make up & Photoshop to become a zombie Angelina Jolie.
Sahar Tabar is only 19. Her joke landed her in jail. Her mother cries every day to get her innocent daughter freed. Dear Angelina Jolie! we need your voice here. Help us. pic.twitter.com/0QTzSv2c5v
— Masih Alinejad ️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 11, 2020
Amnesty International, a global human rights organisation, had also sought Sahar’s release, as per media reports.
“Sahar Tabar appears to have been detained solely in connection with her posts on Instagram,” Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Research Director, was quoted as saying by The Sun.
“If this is indeed the case, she should be immediately and unconditionally released. Sharing photos on social media apps is not a crime,” Luther had said.
Sahar Tabar regrets the look
Tabar has claimed it was not her intention to base her zombie character on Academy Award-winning star Jolie or on Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride.
She said she had modified her images with makeup before digitally editing them as a “joke”, as per The Sun.
Expressing regret about the look, Tabar recalled, “My mother was telling me to stop, but I didn’t listen. Sometimes the words of a stranger or a friend can be more important than those of a parent.”
Commenting on if she will return to Instagram now that she is out from prison, Tabar said she was undecided about even keeping the photosharing app on her phone, “let alone have a page”, The Sun reported.
Similar arrests in Iran
Iran has put its citizens behind bars for even dancing in public.
In 2018, a teenager was arrested after sharing videos of herself dancing online. The women in Iran had then posted videos of themselves dancing on social media to express solidarity with the teen.
The same year, the head of the department of Islamic guidance in the Iranian city of Mashhad was arrested after videos of men and women dancing at a shopping centre surfaced online.
A judicial official had called the event organised at the mall an “offence against public decency”, as per BBC.
Iran, which mandates females to cover their heads publicly with a hijab, has even arrested women for showing their hair on social media, as per The Sun.