A semi-official Iranian news agency called Fars altered an image of Michelle Obama at the Academy Awards to appeal to their more conservative readers.
An image was Photoshopped to show Mrs. Obama with covered shoulders and chest– a stark contrast from the sleeveless silver gown that she was wearing by designer Naeem Khan on Sunday night.
Although modest by American standards, the designer gown, which exposed the shoulders and partial chest of the first lady, violated the codes of modesty enforced in many Muslim countries.
Patrick Ventrell, deputy State Department spokesperson, wouldn’t comment on Michelle Obama’s manipulated photo but he did say that the State Department has seen images and statements manipulated in the past by the Iranian government.
“We’ve persistently seen Iranian news agencies, whether they’re partially or fully state-run, use fabrication and use other means to distort images.”
Ventrell continues, “It’s something that we’ve seen in the past here in this department. We’ve seen photos manipulated. We’ve seen official statements manipulated. So there would be nothing new. It wouldn’t surprise me.”
And he is right as Michelle Obama certainly isn’t the only female figure that has been covered up by Middle Eastern media. In 2011, images of supermodel Gisele Bündchen were digitally altered to cover the model who was starring in a new H& M campaign. The photo alterations were made to ads running in Dubai.
Singer Mariah Carey’s outfits were also modified in Saudi Arabia where her album shots were Photoshopped to more closely align with the values of the Muslim culture.
Michelle Obama wasn’t the only thing that bothered Iranians about the Academy Awards this year. According to the Washington Post, Iranian media has also criticized the best picture of the year “Argo” as an unflattering portrayal of Iran.
Mehr News produced a headline criticizing Affleck’s acceptance speech. The headline read, “After distorting history, Ben Affleck continues to show a bleak picture of Iran: Iranians live in terrible circumstances.”
And The Asriran news website published remarks suggesting the film has anti-Iranian inclinations.
Though “Argo,” which focuses of the Iranian hostage crisis from 1979 to 1981, has not been shown in any Iranian cinema, Iranian media called the award a “political” win.