Appealing or adapting to the young voters

6 June 2005

Looks are playing a big role in this years election and it's something easily missed by the foreign journalists who are not familiar with the culture.

For example, a foreign journalist can hardly understand why the new appearance of Baqer Qalibaf, the former police chief of Tehran and high-ranking commander of the Revolutionary Guards, is significant. Semi-shaven beard, with brown or "white and over-sized jacket":http://www.qalibaf.com/Site.aspx?ParTree=AQF , while sporting trendy glasses, Qalibaf is completely different from how "he used to appear":http://tinypic.com/54jg1 in public.

       Baqer Qalibaf tries to appeal to the youth Or take "Elaheh

Koulaie":http://www.mehrnews.com/fa/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=188972 , the reformist candidate's spokeswoman and former MP from Tehran. Aside from the fact that she is the only high-ranking female member of any of the campaigns, she looks completely different from what every female politician has ever looked like in Iran after the revolution. Wearing a colorful scarf and a light, plain dress is in total contrast with what is perceived as the official look of women involved in politics, such as Jamileh Kadivar, another former Tehran MP and a reformist who has always worn a black chador.

Female and colourful: Elaheh Koulaie represents the reformist candidate

Maybe this is why state TV refused to accept her TV appearance the other night. Although the announced reason, according to the BBC Persian, is even worse: She should appear in another panel with only female representatives of the candidates.

Should we expect to see a pretty actress such as "Hedieh Tehrani":http://www.funiran.com/album/thumbnails.php?album=10 as Qalibaf's representative in the coming days?

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Emily Bell Leonard Tow Professor of Journalism and director, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia Journalism School

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