Sahar Tabar’s Divisive Transformation: Iran’s “Zombie Angelina Jolie”
The Startling Journey of Fatemeh Khishvand
Famed for her extreme physical modifications to resemble Hollywood star Angelina Jolie, Sahar Tabar, born as Fatemeh Khishvand, stirred a storm of controversy in her home country, Iran. The drastic cosmetic procedures she underwent, including liposuction and rhinoplasty, sparked intense discussions and debates on digital platforms. The woman, often referred to as Iran’s Zombie Angelina Jolie, subsequently faced a ten-year prison sentence.
Imitating a Hollywood Icon
Tabar, just 19, reportedly underwent more than 50 cosmetic surgeries to dramatically alter her looks. While she never explicitly expressed her intention to imitate Angelina Jolie, her followers drew a parallel between the two. She took to social media to display her transformation, posting photos heavily manipulated through digital editing, exhibiting exaggerated cheekbones, overfilled, angled lips, and a significantly reshaped nose.
However, many have cast doubt on the validity of her surgeries, suspecting the images to be substantially edited or digitally doctored.
Rise to Infamy on Social Media
By showcasing her unconventional aesthetics on Instagram, Tabar attracted substantial attention, amassing nearly four million followers. But her Instagram handle, @sahartabar_official, was subsequently deleted. Her mother fervently disapproved of her online activities and the startling images that evoked Zombie Angelina Jolie. Yet, Tabar continued her pursuit of notoriety. She commented, “The digital world was a convenient route… far easier than trying to become an actress.”
In a conversation with Russian media outlet Sputnik, Tabar described her extensively modified images as a form of artistic self-expression. She clarified that her aim was not to mimic Jolie or the Corpse Bride character, though she accepted the resemblance. Above all, she emphasized her individual identity, insisting that imitating others was not her main objective.
Legal Woes and Confinement
Tabar’s activities ignited widespread perplexity among her audience. She was arrested in October 2019 for allegedly sharing blasphemous content on Instagram. Moreover, she was charged with unlawful property acquisition, incitement of violence, negatively influencing young people, generating income through unsuitable means, and breaching the country’s stringent dress code for women.
Consequently, Tabar received a ten-year prison sentence, a harsh punishment for a young woman, and was incarcerated in Qarchak Prison, renowned for being one of Iran’s most severe women’s prisons.
A Plea to Angelina Jolie
Upon learning about Sahar Tabar’s predicament, Iranian activist Masih Alinejad took to social media to draw attention to her case. Alinejad reached out to Angelina Jolie, appealing for her assistance and use of her influential platform to support Tabar’s cause. Alinejad implored, “Sahar Tabar is only 19. Her joke landed her in jail. Her mother weeps every day, hoping for her innocent daughter’s release. Dear Angelina Jolie, we need your voice here. Help us.”
After a 14-month prison term, Tabar was eventually freed. Her release coincided with the death of Mahsa Amini, another young woman arrested and assaulted by Iranian police for inadequately wearing her hijab.