Join 3,501 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Wow.
March 12, 2002 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Wow. The little Afghani girl whose eyes captivated a nation back in 1985 (when her portrait graced the cover of a National Geographic magazine) has been located (alive!).
posted by silusGROK (38 comments total)

 
A similar discussion a few months back about her being in hiding.
posted by gyc at 4:57 PM on March 12, 2002


Wow. She looks, um, different...

I don't know. When we were talking about this a few months ago, I was really hoping they'd find her again. Now that they have I find it sort of exploitative. Something about this really bothers me.
posted by jpoulos at 5:48 PM on March 12, 2002


jpoulos, haha, props to you for saying what we were all thinking... she got ugly
posted by banished at 6:11 PM on March 12, 2002


Then as now, Sharbat Gula looks at the world with uncompromising, unforgettable eyes. Until she was shown the June 1985 Geographic this year, she had no idea that her image had been seen by millions. People have told McCurry that her face alone inspired them to aid refugees.

That's surprising to read, having been raised as a member of a society so absorbed by celebrity and wealth, that someone could have their picture taken and have no idea the impact it had- the very idea seems alien to my thoroughly Americanized mind. jpoulos raises a point- this woman is presumably seeing no benefit from her iconic status. National Geographic certainly did- it's perhaps the most famous and memorable Nat'l- Geo cover ever, and if this woman were American she'd have already capitalized on that famous photo by snagging her own E! half-hour fashion show. I'd say Nat'l Geo ought to at least ensure or fund her kids' education or something, since she says she wants her girls to receive what she never got.

Actually, in a related vein her youthful self was really quite attractive, quite photogenic- like a better looking, more exotic version of Courteney Cox (as well as those amazing green eyes). Unlike Courteney Cox, however, I don't suppose Sharbat has ever chosen to starve herself in order to stay photogenic...
posted by hincandenza at 6:11 PM on March 12, 2002


Let me take that back- Nat'l Geo is setting up a fund to aid in the education of women and children in Afghanistan. Good for them...
posted by hincandenza at 6:13 PM on March 12, 2002


The years have not been kind.
posted by donkeyschlong at 6:17 PM on March 12, 2002


One photo is a poised photograph taken and probably had some photoshop work done to it (as all mag cover shots do). The 2nd portrait looks much less carefully structured and hasn't had much, if any, work done on it.

While I don't doubt that growing up in years of wartime strife and starvation will take their toll, I think we can safely say that the '85 photo may not have told the whole story at the time...
posted by Salmonberry at 6:27 PM on March 12, 2002


Am I alone in never hearing about this woman until the recent "she captivated millions back in 1985" hype? Come on! National Geographic captivated someone?

I think I was busy reading Spy.
posted by Mid at 7:02 PM on March 12, 2002


If it is to be said we are all born with a clean chalkboard, hers appears to be all but filled up in this photo.

It's a travesty, the hope and promise each and every child embodies, succumbing to the poisons of noxious culture (of which I am not immune, so don't think I'm calling 'her culture' out as noxious while 'mine' ain't--humanistically we're all related in how quality of life directly correlates with how much unconditional love and attention we receive). The before and afters remind me of having an emotionally tormented girlfriend, her life now, the product of so much abuse, so much rape, and then finding a photo of her as a joyous child, without a care in the world, playing like playtime would never end.
posted by crasspastor at 7:17 PM on March 12, 2002


National Geographic captivated someone?

I was hellaciously captivated by that old (thinking 1984) NG cover with the very first real hologram any of us had ever seen. You know, the one with the eagle.
posted by crasspastor at 7:21 PM on March 12, 2002


I can't believe the blithe remark about how she's gotten "ugly." Being a woman who has scraped by hand-to-mouth in a hellish, war-torn country for her entire life isn't exactly conducive to Western standards of beauty, banished. Grow up.
posted by apollonia6 at 7:43 PM on March 12, 2002


It was an asinine comment. So she doesn't look like Cameron Diaz. I think Cameron Diaz looks link a pink version of one of the "Grey" aliens. She was a beautiful child, yes, but it's been almost twenty years. She looks a little winburnt, but she's still very pretty. Afghanistan doesn't exactly have the most forgiving climate, people.
Personally, when I grow up, I want to look well-used, not like I did when I was fourteen.
posted by Su at 8:03 PM on March 12, 2002


Right on. What a stupid thing to say. She's not "ugly," she's real.
posted by rodii at 8:10 PM on March 12, 2002


You know, the one with the eagle.

Blurk - flashback :)

Names have power, so let us speak of hers...stories shift like sand in a place where no records exist...

"This is the end," Alfalfa sobbed, clutching at her heaving bosom and pausing only occasionally to scratch her itching left armpit while her sapphire eyes, brimming with salty tears, turned helplessly towards the gibbous moon that hung in the brooding sky like a tobacco-stained nail paring." -Niki Wessels, Centurion, South Africa
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:19 PM on March 12, 2002


She's not "ugly," she's real.

That should be on a bumper sticker.
posted by suprfli at 9:26 PM on March 12, 2002


Are the bombs we're dropping empty?? What's the score here.
posted by Settle at 9:28 PM on March 12, 2002


Settle, you do realize that our bombs account for approximately one tenth of one percent of all the deaths in Afghanistan since this woman had her portrait taken?

Yes, one tenth of one percent. Give a tenth or two. And they're not being dropped on refugee camps, so stop trolling, Mr. Shameless.
posted by dhartung at 9:40 PM on March 12, 2002


banished: please don't speak for me or anyone else who doesn't subscribe to your interpretation of "what we were all thinking". beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
posted by modge at 9:50 PM on March 12, 2002


i like this comment in the forum:

"She is hauntingly beautiful. The eyes follow you. She is so famous and yet so sheltered and hidden. Her face and eyes have held my attention for 17 years. Her suffering and that of thousands of others has been great. I am thankful she is alive." -- CEM

the flash presentation is pretty great, too.
posted by kliuless at 10:22 PM on March 12, 2002


I suspect that a picture of that girl (and not of one of the many other men, women, and children of Afghanistan) became famous because a lot of guys were thinking, "Hey, I wouldn't mind doing that." And now they're a little disappointed that she is no longer that pure, vulnerable, underaged girl with the nice eyes. Time and another man got there before them.
posted by pracowity at 10:46 PM on March 12, 2002


"Hey, I wouldn't mind doing that."

Nothing does it for me like refugees. Except maybe kitties. Ooh, ooh, a refugee holding a kitty!

I need to take a cold shower now.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:51 PM on March 12, 2002


let it not happen to natalie portman :)
posted by kliuless at 10:55 PM on March 12, 2002


I don't think recognizing that she was beautiful then, with those extraordinary eyes, means that it's really just some lustful "I wouldn't mind doing that" impulse. Beauty is not by itself sexual, at least not for most of us. Besides, I think people are more fascinated by the reality of the "icon", putting a very specific and well-known face to the abstraction of Afghanistan for many westerners. There's something compelling in being forceably reminded that it's a real person who couldn't care and is even uncomfortable with being photographed (especially as conditioned as we are to assume that anyone who's face is so "famous" couldn't be living the life that she does, couldn't not seek out the attention) that doesn't want celebrity but just health for her family, an education for her daughters. It's a life being lived out all these years while we stayed stuck on that same photo.
Two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other bank. She thanked him and departed. As the monks continued on their way, the one was brooding and preoccupied. Unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. "Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!"
"Brother," the second monk replied, "I set her down on the other side, while you are still carrying her."
As for kliuless- no doubt! Natalie P' done become one majorly fine piece of @$$- when I saw her positively radiate in that Episode II trailer, I thought to myself, "Da-amn! I wouldn't mind doing that!!"
posted by hincandenza at 11:21 PM on March 12, 2002


How could she be 28 - maybe all those Afghan OAPs we see in photos are only in their mid 30s. After all, the life expectancy for women in Afghanistan is only 45.
posted by zimbobzim at 1:52 AM on March 13, 2002


I'm speechless. Wow, after all these years we finally find out what her name is. Props to all the folks who work for the good old Natty G. Btw, I always thought that the young Sharbat Gula bears some resemblance to Madonna.
posted by Stumpy McGee at 3:10 AM on March 13, 2002


I can't believe the blithe remark about how she's gotten "ugly." Being a woman who has scraped by hand-to-mouth in a hellish, war-torn country for her entire life isn't exactly conducive to Western standards of beauty, banished. Grow up.

She doesn't even look particularly ugly to me. Gorgeous eyes stay that way until something bad happens to them.
posted by vbfg at 3:15 AM on March 13, 2002


Thank god they found her so now we can all argue over whether she's ugly, beautiful, or just plain "real".
posted by Outlawyr at 8:16 AM on March 13, 2002


The before and afters remind me of having an emotionally tormented girlfriend, her life now, the product of so much abuse, so much rape, and then finding a photo of her as a joyous child, without a care in the world, playing like playtime would never end.

To me, she seems much more relaxed and at peace in the later photos. Too much frightened deer-in-headlights in the earlier, although her little-girl cuteness still came through.
posted by HTuttle at 8:22 AM on March 13, 2002


I admit that as a teenager I had one or two fantasies of "rescuing" her and the two of us living happily ever after.

But I can't get any of the links to the recent pics to work.
posted by bingo at 8:27 AM on March 13, 2002


jpoulos, haha, props to you for saying what we were all thinking... she got ugly

Sometimes people are fucking unbelievable.
posted by glenwood at 8:33 AM on March 13, 2002


I chose not to look.
posted by wfrgms at 10:21 AM on March 13, 2002


Two news stories:
Afghan Girl Found After 17 Years
National Geographic Tracks Down Afghan Girl
posted by me3dia at 10:32 AM on March 13, 2002


I can't get the magma.nationageographic links to work. It's acting like the server's not there. Are there any alternative links? Maybe NatGeo's just getting too many hits and can't handle the bandwidth?
posted by ZachsMind at 1:10 PM on March 13, 2002


I think they may just be getting too many hits. I had trouble getting through to it a little while ago but did connect eventually, and the same thing happened to one of my coworkers this morning.
posted by apollonia6 at 1:37 PM on March 13, 2002


Try dropping the "magma" -- probably just one of several machines they're load balancing against. I got re-directed to "mesa" when I tried...
posted by daver at 1:47 PM on March 13, 2002


Okay, I saw a recent picture in a paper. She's not ugly...just looks worn down, completely understandable. I think that if she was able to get access to a healthy diet, more flattering clothes, and a lifestyle in which she had less to worry about, she would look pretty good.
posted by bingo at 8:35 PM on March 13, 2002


Five bucks says she's on a United Colors of Benetton billboard selling cargo pants before the year is out.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:25 PM on March 13, 2002


I hope she is; that would mean the kind of wealth and comfort she could never have hoped to dream of; I can imagine such a thing happening to people who deserved it less.
posted by bingo at 1:38 AM on March 14, 2002


« Older Getting the Picture...  |  Winona Ryder Tape exonerates h... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments