During a sold-out concert in Paris, Aryana Sayeed wore a jumpsuit — a style favored by many of her pop compatriots. But though the skin-colored piece — featuring a tulle train and crystal embellishment — would most likely be considered conservative on Western performers such as Jennifer Lopez and Nicki Minaj, Sayeed, who’s Afghan, caught flak for daring to step out in the sparkly number.
In response to public criticism, the singer — who’s also a judge on Afghanistan’s version of The Voice — posted a Facebook video of herself burning the jumpsuit. “If you think that the only problem in Afghanistan is this dress, I will set this on fire today because of you,” she said.
She continued, “It should be noted that the reason for this action of mine is not the pressure of those who still live in dark ages but to raise further awareness in regards to important issues within our society.”
Since being shared on Wednesday, Sayeed’s post has received 260,000 views and more than 13,000 comments, with new ones appearing by the second.
And it isn’t just Facebook users paying attention to Sayeed’s words and actions.
On Twitter, the singer and her dress-burning have become a hot topic, with many users expressing their support for Sayeed, her choice to dress however she pleases, and her actions in calling out the criticism she has faced.
people sexualized & dehumanized #aryanasayeed to the point of such pressure, she burned her dress today. this is the power of the male gaze
— Marjan Asadullah (@marjanasadullah) May 24, 2017
Disgusting how so many men are attacking Aryana Sayeed for wearing a nude dress. She's such an empowering woman. Those pigs are shameful.
— tee (@aidodyo) May 24, 2017
Just saw #AryanaSayeed's video, it's quite shameful she had to go through such situation, stay strong!
— Hikmat zia (@_Bedouin_) May 24, 2017
One user even likened Sayeed’s situation to the terrorist attack in Manchester earlier this week, and the way that young women’s sexuality played into both events.
— Yama Rasekh (@yrasekh) May 23, 2017
Sayeed’s video statement speaks to a larger issue in Afghanistan — and other countries in the Middle East, especially those under Sharia — regarding which clothing is and is not appropriate for women.
The 31-year-old performer has become a symbol of sartorial progressiveness, refusing to wear a headscarf and generally dressing like her peers in form-fitting dresses and high heels. According to the BBC, becoming a women’s rights icon (her lyrics encourage women to be strong and include other feminist messages) has also made her a Taliban target.
“They would say, you know, ‘This week, they’re going to attack Aryana, they’re going to kill Aryana,’ and stuff like that,” she said in response to threats. “I do get scared, but you know what? I feel like, you know, this is the path that I’ve chosen. I don’t want to just leave it halfway; I have to finish it somehow.”
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