Saturday, May 19, 2012

When Vogue Magazine Spent Time In Afghanistan

Although hard to believe, there was actually a time in Afghanistan, albeit very short-lived, where women had equal rights weren't forced to hide under burqas and were actually allowed an education.  Most of that happened when the Marxists took control of the government in 1978, but even back in the mid 1920s attempts at modernization began and continued up until the Taliban took control and women were shoved back into their burqas, and their homes.

Vogue Magazine even made a trip there in the late 1960s, strange as that might seem, back in the days when Kabul didn't seem much different than any other westernized foreign city.  I came across that tidbit of information in an interesting article written in 2010 on The Polyglot blog. Chicago-based Alex Aubry writes:

"Given the amount of images and headlines devoted to Afghanistan over the past three decades of war, one would be forgiven for concluding that a rich culture and civilization had never existed there; let alone a long history of cultural exchange with the West.

Yet back in 1969 Afghanistan was part of the hippy trail, an exotic destination for both the world’s fashion elite and young Americans and Europeans looking for adventure. What they found was a vibrant, modern Kabul teaming with traffic and stores selling the latest furniture and fashions. But there was also the centuries-old bazaars, a stately museum and Mughal gardens waiting to be discovered. A half-century ago, Afghan women pursued careers in medicine, men and women mingled casually at movie theaters and university campuses in Kabul and factories in the suburbs churned out textiles and other goods.

This was the Afghanistan that the Vogue team encountered upon landing at Kabul’s International Airport in 1969. The result was a fashion story titled “Afghan Adventure,” which appeared in Vogue’s December issue that year. In addition to photographing models amongst ancient ruins and colorful bazaars, the accompanying article also featured the Capital’s bright young things; amongst them a young fashion designer named Safia Tarzi."

Make sure you read the rest of the article, it's fascinating.

Westernized Afghan women in the 1960s in a record store
Fast forward to Taliban days, and even now.

I feel for the women who had a taste of freedom and then had it mercilessly wrenched away from them.

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