On June 14, 2022, Twitter user @lostinhist0ry tweeted a picture with the caption, “Woman cutting her birthday cake in Iran 1973, 5 years before the Islamic Revolution.” We received mail from readers asking if we could find data that might confirm whether or not this was true.
Ten days after the tweet went up, a Facebook user reposted the same picture with the caption, “Here is an image from Iran of a woman cutting her birthday cake in 1973, 5 years before the Islamic Revolution there. Just wanted to point out how things can change when the government gets religious.”
According to users who commented on the photograph, the woman’s apparent happiness and the freedom to wear the clothes she’s dressed in portrayed a stark contrast to the country’s present-day reality.
The U.S. Institute of Peace published information about how modern dress code rules and other discriminatory guidelines target women specifically in Iran, especially following the Iranian Revolution in 1979. For example, the Institute of Peace said that “all females [in Iran] are required to cover their hair and dress modestly from the age of puberty.”
Reverse Image Search
According to the TinEye reverse image search website, one of the earliest postings of the picture of the woman appeared to be from June 24, 2018. A post in the r/OldSchoolCool subreddit on Reddit showed the caption, “Woman cutting her birthday cake in Tehran, Iran 1973.”
We also found that the photograph had been posted on a handful of other websites between 2018 and 2022, but none of those pages contained any attribution for the picture. The photograph did not appear on Getty Images, Alamy, or any other websites that license historical images, nor did it show up in any credible reporting about the Iranian Revolution.
A Helpful Lead
After some more digging around, we stumbled upon what looked to be a helpful comment in a different Reddit thread from Dec. 22, 2020. In a repost on r/OldSchoolCool, Reddit user notbob1959 commented with information about a Pinterest board:
The original source for this photo is a Pinterest board and it has a few other photos of this woman and her parents. The title of the board is “My Mother in Iran – Inspirational pictures of my mother from the 60s” and it doesn’t say the posted photo is of her birthday or outside of the 60s.
‘My Mother in Iran’
As the Reddit comment said, the Pinterest board was titled “My Mother in Iran.” It was posted by a user named justjared18. According to the page’s source code, the Pinterest board appeared to have been created on June 8, 2013.
As for the picture in question, source code for that page showed that the photograph was added to the board on Sept. 30, 2014. The caption for the photograph read, “My mother in Iran in the 60s.” It did not mention 1973 or say anything about the woman cutting the cake specifically for her birthday or anyone else’s birthday.
At this stage, it appears that our fact check rating of “Miscaptioned” might work best, as the inclusion of the year 1973 and the part about her birthday might have been made up for Reddit in 2018.
However, before rushing to judgment, we contacted the Pinterest user who claimed to be the woman’s child in order to confirm the veracity of the details that were provided. This story will be updated in the future. For now, we have temporarily rated this claim about the photo of the woman cutting the cake in Iran as “Research In Progress.”
Afary, Janet. “Iranian Revolution.” Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/event/Iranian-Revolution.
Hanna, Andrew. “Part 3: Iranian Laws on Women.” The Iran Primer, 8 Dec. 2020, https://iranprimer.usip.org/blog/2020/dec/08/part-3-iranian-laws-women.
justjared18. “My Mother in Iran.” Pinterest, 8 June 2013, https://www.pinterest.ca/justjared18/my-mother-in-iran/.
notbob1959. “The Original Source ….” r/OldSchoolCool via Reddit, 23 Dec. 2020, https://www.reddit.com/r/OldSchoolCool/.
TinEye Reverse Image Search. https://tineye.com/.