It was five years ago, the summer of 2012; I was starting Turning Fashion Inside Out and I met a lovely young woman named Farnoosh. Farnoosh shared her story about coming to the United States from Iran – with her parents and two sisters – and how they had to make adjustments to living in a completely new country and a new world. At that time, she was 12 years old and had to learn to fit in to a middle school environment which is not easy for any young person, let alone someone from Iran. She told me that initially, she chose to find her way through the clothes she wore. It was the first interview when I knew that we are all connected by our daily armour of clothing and our self expression, and when I truly understood the mission of my stories on TFIO. Five years later and Farnoosh is learning that she cannot travel to Iran, her home country, to visit her family. She is heartbroken. And I am heartbroken for her. I wish her and her family the chance to return to Iran very soon. I pull this story from my TFIO archives, and share again, Farnoosh’s story, as told to me in 2012. Here is Farnoosh:
“I always try to keep my style simple yet sophisticated.” Farnoosh
You meet Farnoosh and she looks like a typical American 22 year-old. Yes, she lives in America, and yes she is 22, but Farnoosh’s story is not typically American. Rather, it is other-worldly. The other side of the world, in fact, because Farnoosh was born in Iran and lived there until she was twelve years old. That is when she and her mother and father and two older sisters came to live in The United States. It was not her decision to come to America; “I was a little girl – I did not want to leave.” Farnoosh was living happily in Iran, in a city called Isfahan. She had her friends and her life, but her parents had three girls and they knew that their future would be limited if they stayed.
The year was 2002; it was not an easy time to be from Iran and move here, so soon after September 11th. It was certainly not easy for a pre-teen girl about to enter 7th grade and couldn’t speak a word of English. The first few years were very rough for Farnoosh – she remembers her Aunt (who had been living here already) picking out clothes for her, because she knew nothing about American fashion.
Two years later, however, Farnoosh began to fully adjust to her new life and find her way. This meant learning to speak English, of course, and a surprising feeling of empowerment that came when she found her own sense of style. No longer required to have her Aunt choose her clothing for her, she began to choose for herself. Farnoosh’s style has evolved over the years. Today, “I buy what I like. I buy what makes me comfortable … my mood is affected by how I’m dressed. If I’m wearing clothes that I feel comfortable in, I’m in a good mood.” Farnoosh is contemporary but not all about the trends of the moment. She wishes to choose wisely, because she knows that your clothing reflects how you want people to see you.
Twelve years later, Farnoosh is getting ready to start law school and hopes to be influential in foreign relations and help countries where she can, especially Iran. She thanks her parents for bringing her here so that she can pursue her dreams. And not least, she likes the freedom to dress as she pleases and wear her hair loose.