What you see in the picture is what was thought to be the most beautiful woman in the nineteenth century. The first is Zahra Khanom Tadj es-Saltaneh, the late-nineteenth-century daughter of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar, King of Persia. Zahra was born in 1883, and as the King's daughter, she was held in high regard by the people.
The second woman is actually Princess Fatemeh Khanum “’Esmat al-Dowleh”, an early Princess of the Royal Persian dynasty born in 1855 who was also regarded the most beautiful woman in Persia in her period of youth. You can clearly tell that both women have mustaches.
Beauty Standards Were Enforced
Is she sporting a mustache? The answer is yes, because the Persian society at the time changed the beauty standard to a "more natural beauty," causing the society of the time to see facial hair on women as very appealing. This is analogous to how modern society perceives women with a lot of cosmetics as lovely and desirable, at least from a social standpoint.
If you go around for images of other Persian ladies from that time period, you will not find many, if any, because the Royal family made it illegal to photograph women, but because he was the King, he was able to photograph women.
Another feature that may be noted is that most Princess Zahra's descendants had larger body sizes, which was seen to be quite lovely. This is exactly how the King liked his women, and of course, he assumed that everyone else should have his likes.
In this case, it was a result of his daughters' concerns about other women in society, as well as his need for everyone to agree with his taste in women. The society had to obey the king's word, or else they would be visited by the King's guards. Some of the more prominent figures in the Persian scene at the time, like Amir Hussein Khan, the man who became betrothed to Princess Zahra, considered these women enticing.
Some think that Amir Hussein Khan was really interested in Princess Zahra, while others argue that he was just interested in attaining power by marrying into the Royal family.
While the Persian society was "forcefully sold" on the King's aesthetic standards, the western world at the time had a quite different opinion. Dr. Afsaneh Najmabadi's book "Women with Mustaches and Men Without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity" shows how western women perceived Persian women based on their aesthetic standards.
The strongly exaggerated brows and mustaches gave ladies a male face, which is not part of the beauty standard inside women, as some Belgian girls from the time said after seeing the images. The book also delves more into the aesthetic standards established in Persia during the nineteenth century.
Near the middle of the twentieth century, western influences began to influence Persia's beauty standards, causing men to open their eyes to something more attractive than their primitive instinct. These women were labeled as ugly by Western standards, despite the fact that every woman is beautiful in her own unique way. Following a certain trend or norm to look attractive in the eyes of society is incorrect.