Everyday Iran: What Hardliners In The US And Iran Don’t Want You To See

Published March 17, 2015
Updated January 19, 2018
Everyday iran colorful youth

These young people were captured by Nooshafarin Movaffagh, who photographs for the website Humans of Tehran. Source: The Roosevelts © Nooshafarin Movaffagh

Every day, hardliners in Iran and the United States try to paint a picture of an Iran wholly opposed to Western modernity. But behind the political posturing are the actual people who live and work in Iran, and they don’t look as different as these leaders might like us to imagine. Just as there is no single understanding of what an American looks like, there is no essential Iranian, either. Like many countries, oppression and violence are a reality of everyday life, but overall Iran is a country striving to find a middle ground between staunch traditionalism and modern sensibilities, most notably in the area of Tehran, Iran’s cultural and industrial capital.

This photo gallery highlights the Iran most of us don’t normally get to see, and reminds us that an entire country should not be judged by its government, extremists or political landscape.

Everyday iran balcony smoking
Taking in the view from the balcony. At home, women do not have to cover their heads or dress as modestly as they are expected to in public. Source: Imgur © Hossein Fatemi

Everyday iran bra shopping
Browsing for undergarments inside a shop. Source: IMGUR © Hossein Fatemi

Everyday iran firefighters
Firefighters outside of their station. Source:The Roosevelts

Everyday iran billiard hall
Women play billiards in a recreation hall. Source: IMGUR © Hossein Fatemi

Everyday iran art student
“When people find out that I’m from South Tehran, they immediately assume I’m a criminal or a thug. But I’m just an ordinary art student trying to make ends meet.” – Farzad seen near Emamzadeh-Hassan via Humans of Tehran. Source: Humans of Tehran © Omid Iranmehr

Everyday iran dog shelter volunteer
Though Islamic officials have set out to ban dogs as pets (saying that they are unclean and owning them is an imitation of Western practices) people will be people, and we tend to value the loyalty and friendship of canines. Here a woman bearing food donations for a non-government charity animal shelter plays with a homeless dog. Source: New York Daily News

Everyday iran women at gym
At the gym, where women and men work out separately. Source: Imgur © Hossein Fatemi

Everyday iran tehran skyline mountains
A beautiful shot of the mountainous Tehran skyline at dusk, a change from the desert scenes we are used to seeing. Source: The Roosevelts

Everyday iran park bench men
Old men instinctively gather to park benches the world over. Source: The Roosevelts

Everyday iran hookah bar
Inside a hookah bar, where women are still usually expected to be accompanied by a man. Source: Imgur © Hossein Fatemi

Everyday iran skiers
Snow is not what we usually think of in Iran; here are some skiers ready for some slope action. Even though men and women have been made to ski separately in the past, now it often is a co-ed activity (though such behavior is not formally authorized). Source: NPR Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Everyday iran band practice
Rock music is forbidden by the government, but resourceful and dedicated bands find ways to practice in secret. Source: Imgur © Hossein Fatemi

Everyday iran fruit stand
Sattar's business has fallen on some tough luck, like when a swindling business partner left him broke. But he had a friend to help him get through it. “There was a time I had completely lost faith in Tehran and its people," says the 61-year-old Azeri native. "But just when I thought I've had enough, along came a friend, who was -and still is- so amazing and so good, that I found myself falling in love with the city all over again.” Humans of Tehran

Everyday iran smiling women
These young women only have smiles for the camera. Source: The Roosevelts

Everyday iran beauty parlor
A beauty salon; at least one place where men are not allowed to enter. Source: Imgur © Hossein Fatemi

Everyday iran eram garden
Eram Garden in Shiraz, also known as the botanical center of Shiraz University. Source: Iran Tour Online

Everyday iran street music
Street musicians entertain while trying to make a living. Source: The Roosevelts

Everyday iran dog bed
Even though dog ownership is extremely frowned upon, some people simply can’t resist their companionship. However, dog owners must keep their furry friends inside four walls to avoid their confiscation. Source: IMGUR © Hossein Fatemi

Everyday iran apartment relaxing
Eylya, an artist, relaxes inside his house. Source: Imgur © Hossein Fatemi

Everyday iran trees
Music being played among a grove of trees. Source: Imgur © Hossein Fatemi

Want to learn more about Iran? Check out what the country looked like before the Islamic Revolution.

Erin Kelly
An All That's Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she's designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.