Who is Sahar Tabar? Before and after photos of Tabar, a 22-year-old woman from Tehran, suddenly went viral in 2017, along with the tragic, but only somewhat shocking story behind them.
Reports say that Tabar, whose physical appearance has completely transformed, "would do anything" to look exactly like her hero — actress, director, and human rights activist Angelina Jolie.
Jolie is obviously beautiful and, of course, many women view her as a role model both for her striking looks, her movie star life, and her work on behalf of those in need. But Tabar took the whole notion of following in someone's footsteps way past the extreme.
I mean, the photo on the left of Tabar is something out of nightmares, no?
It's been reported that Tabar, who some sources say is actually only a 19-year-old teen, idolizes Jolie so much that over the course of just a few months she underwent 50 surgical procedures to make herself look as much like the star as possible.
There's no arguing that Tabar's decision is taking fangirling to the extreme, and then some.
She didn't stop at just changing the structure of her face, either. Tabar also put herself on a strict diet regime and managed to lose 88.2 pounds over the same short period of time. Given these drastic steps, it's not particularly surprising that she has also taken to wearing tinted contact lenses to try and make her eyes as bright blue as Jolie's eyes are.
Not only has Tabar's decision to radically change her appearance garnered her a decent amount of press, it's exploded her following on social media.
In just 24 hours of posting the shocking photo, her already healthy 270,000 Instagram followers grew to an extraordinary 553,000.
Of course, not all of the attention she is been receiving has been positive.
Many people find her decision to take her desire to emulate Jolie to such an extreme deeply disturbing. There is something truly harrowing about the photos she shares, particularly when you compare her recent photos to those showing what she looked like before her transformation began.
There's no doubt that the results of Tabar's surgeries are extreme. Frankly, when I first saw her photos online, I felt as though they should come with a trigger warning. Then, I thought maybe I was being unfair. After all, it's her body and it should be her choice if she wants to do anything to it.
However, Newsweek consulted with celebrity plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Salzhauer, chief surgeon at Bal Harbour Plastic Surgery in Miami, who has neither met nor treated Tabar, but shared his opinions, not only regarding what work she may have had done, but which health consequences she also may suffer.
“The nose is obviously distorted from having at least one too many rhinoplasties... There is probably a silicone implant to give tip and bridge support. The lips look overfilled with filler and she has also likely had a ‘lip lift’ procedure to turn her lip up and show more vermillion, [which is] the red part of the lip... Most of the other distortion is [likely] from anorexia. She is clearly protein deficient, which causes the hallowing out of the temporal areas and cheeks — which gives a ‘skeleton’ look... This women needs hospitalization, a feeding tube to increase protein intake and major intensive psychiatric therapy or she may die of starvation," he said.
Tabar is certainly not the first person out there who has turned to plastic surgery in the hope of becoming identical to a favorite celebrity.
Songwriter Toby Sheldon spent over $100,000 on surgeries to help transform him into Justin Bieber's double. Tragically, he died in 2016 from "multiple drug intoxication" at the age of 35.
And then there are the many people who have spent fortunes in their quest to become living versions of Barbie and Ken.
However, there are those who doubt that Tabar's story is even real.
Gossip-debunking site Snopes reported: "[H]er alleged goal remains unproven, as does how much of her appearance in the photographs is really the result of cosmetic surgery... Tabar’s mention of technology and makeup suggested that her photographs might have been digitally altered and/or that she achieved the unusual look on display in online images in part through through the application of cosmetics or prosthetics...
The many articles about Tabar now online do not contain any quote from a direct interview with her or a social media post from her in which she affirmed the number of surgeries she allegedly undertook, her purported dieting, or whether her actual motivation was to like the Academy Award-winning actress. A video posted by the British newspaper The Sun, for example, captures Tabar speaking Farsi, but our translation of that video found in contained no mention of Jolie.
Like other 'viral' stories, the report on Tabar had spread without much in the way of sourcing, aided in part by her unique pictures. We cannot conclusively state whether she indeed used Jolie as a model, or to what extent (if any) she has submitted herself to cosmetic surgery."
Official Snopes Rating: Unproven.
That's not the end of her story, though. Tabar was arrested in October 2019 in Tehran for blasphemy and "encouraging youth corruption" on the orders of the country's guidance court, which deals with “cultural crimes and social and moral corruption."
She has since admitted her severe look isn't natural — and that she used digital enhancement to create her "Zombie Angelina Jolie" appearance.
The same month, Tabar was interviewed on television, where she opened up about the surgeries. Tabar's face was blurred out during the interview. She revealed, "I have wanted to be famous from a very young age, either an actress or performer."
Tabar also revealed that the inspiration for her drastic look was not Jolie, but was actually the animated character "The Corpse Bride." She stated, "That was entirely my intention behind getting the various cosmetic surgeries."
And Tabar assured viewers that it was all Photoshop and she doesn't really look like she did in the shocking photos. Whew!
She also claimed that social media was to blame for her decision to keep posting the photos, saying, "The people who show their support online [for social media influencers] are the reason why we might drown in our own mistakes. In the space of one year I gained 200,000 followers online."
During the interview, psychologist Sima Ferdowsi weighed in, adding, "People who view material like this online and 'like' it may not realize why the people they are following are acting in this way or what the root is to this behavior. The public also need to be more aware."
Ferdowski also noted that Tabar was doing this to "gain attention" and "increase her self-confidence."
Tabar had 486,000 followers on her Instagram before she was arrested. If she is found guilty on the charges, she could face up to a two-year prison sentence.
Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.