The important reason Iranian women are sharing pictures of their hair

In Iran, it is mandatory for women to wear the hijab while in public — and it has been since 1983. According to Book Five of the Penal Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran, “Women, who appear in public places and roads without wearing an Islamic hijab, shall be sentenced to ten days to two months’ imprisonment or a fine of fifty thousand to five hundred Rials.” In 2014 alone, over 3.5 million women were issued warnings and fines or put under arrest for inappropriate dress by the country’s morality police.

And now, women are protesting the laws in a beautiful and unexpected way: By showing off their hair. Started by Iranian journalist and activist Masi Alinejad, Facebook group My Stealthy Freedom encourages women to share “stealthy” pictures of themselves with their hair unveiled in public.

While at first, it may seem like the campaign shames women who wear the hijab, that’s far from the case. Rather, My Stealthy Freedom believes that wearing the hijab should be a choice — and women should be allowed to express their faith and culture however they choose. (Clearly, many agree: The Facebook page has racked up over 830,000 likes to date.)

“This is not a black and white issue,” Alinejad, who is Iranian-born but now lives in the U.S., says in a video for Vox. “Iran is for all Iranians. My mother wants to wear a scarf. I don’t want to wear a scarf. Iran should be for both of us.”