The news. No sanctions or rules can keep the ultra-wealthy teenagers of Iran from getting turnt up.
A new Instagram account, aptly titled "Rich Kids of Tehran," captures a lifestyle that might evoke a suspicious side-eye from the religious leaders of the Islamic Republic. The glitzy collective posts dizzying portraits of Iran's elite teens basking in the lap of luxury, from private jets and pools to fine dining and gold bling.
The ostentatious feed shows its 75,000 followers a lifestyle rarely seen in Western images of the tightly controlled country. For starters, take this picture of someone showing off an expensive watch in front of even a pricier car:
Or posh lunches at Tehran's equivalent of Sur:
As Iranian bros bro in a lavish hotel lobby:
And cruise in private jets:
And fancy cars:
The problem: "Rich Kids of Tehran" starts to look worse when you consider that the oil-rich country is in dire economic straits.
The average income for an Iranian family is estimated to be $7,000. Iran is also the target of severe economic sanctions from Western countries, and they're crippling its economy. Meanwhile, narrowly interpreted Islamic rules prohibit Iranians from consuming alcohol and ban women from wearing immodest clothing in public. Wealth isn't making its way to everyone, either: A 2011 report from PBS revealed that more than half the country lives under the poverty line.
Yet the youth of Iran's 1% don't seem affected. Its administrators defended the account in an interview with news.com.au, saying they're just showing a different side to Iran:
"We love all Iranians; rich and poor doesn't mean anything to us. All people are equal. Our object is to show the world the good side of Iran ... which I think everybody should see before they judge us. We are in no way political and we are just showing how beautiful Tehran and people from Tehran are. Especially with all the bad press in Middle East currently, we want the world to see Tehran is nothing like that."
After seeing its follower count explode since its mid-September start date, the creators further braced for the backlash by posting a statement on the account.
The backlash: Some people aren't buying it. A Facebook page called "Poor Kids of Tehran" is taking the Instagram account to task by juxtaposing pictures of the rich and the less well-off.
What's next? These pictures aren't what the government of Iran wants to show off, since everything about it flies in the face of Islamic law. It's unlikely the kids will be prosecuted, though. "Most of them have fathers who are untouchable," a person with connections to the account told the Times of London. "If they get in trouble, it will disappear."
As far as the ostentatious wealth on display, we're already used to it, thanks to Bravo's Shahs of Sunset. At least these kids seem a little bit classy about it.