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Tala Raassi Received 40 Lashes At The Age Of 16 For Wearing A Mini Skirt

Now, she has become a passionate fashion freedom fighter

Tala Raassi was attending a small gathering of 30 teenagers in Iran shortly after her sixteenth birthday party in 1998 when her life changed forever.

An ex-boyfriend of the girl who was throwing the party wasn’t invited, and out of spite he called the police in an attempt to shut it down. There was no alcohol, no drugs and yet when the police turned up, apparently the teenagers had committed a much harsher crime – wearing ‘indecent’ dress.

After the Iranian revolution in 1978, strict dress codes were placed on women, and they had to cover everything but their face and hands by law. 

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Tala was wearing a mini skirt and high heels, and when the men arrived to shut down the party, she sprinted away.

She told Sydney Morning Herald that this was oddly freeing for her.

“Despite the danger, it was so liberating,” she said. “At that moment I felt invincible …”

She was caught soon after and sent to jail along with her friends, who were all sentenced to lashings – 40 for the girls, and 50 for the boys. She described the horrific experience of being made to lie face forward on a blood stained bed to receive the punishment.

“I felt like it was burning,” she says. “It was like fire.”

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She moved to the US when she was 18 years old, where she was born, and became passionate about how free women were to express themselves through fashion there.

One of the first t-shirts she ever made had cut-outs at the back to signify the lashes that she and he friends had received. 

She has since launched her swimwear brand Tala Raassi, sponsored the Miss Universe pageant in 2010 and now sells her swimwear all over the world.

Now she’s written her first book, Fashion Is Freedom, about her fashion journey and the experiences that shaped her.

Tala Raassi’s book, Fashion Is Freedom (Affirm Press, $30), is available now.

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