Retro Snap: Want To See ‘The Afghan Girl’ 17 Years Later?

The iconic picture of Sharbat Gula was taken in 1985 by Steve McCurry. She was 13 at the time. Do you want to know what she looks like at 30?

This is what she looks like. Let’s just say it: Afghan 30 is America 60.

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    • Meg

      I know it wasn’t intended to be, but I found the caption “Let’s just say it: Afghan 30 is America 60″ to be a little tasteless. When Sharbat Gula was first photographed, she was living in a refugee camp in Pakistan. Although I’m no anthropologist, I feel pretty confident that if the US went through 10 years of violent foreign occupation, followed by four years of civil war and fifteen of fighting an oppressive extremist group, we’d all look a little older too.

      The way that Sharbat Gula has aged likely has nothing to do with her ethnicity, and everything to do with her experience. And if I were a woman who had endured all of that war and loss despite the odds, I’d be proud of every line on my prematurely-aged face.

      • Carly

        Thank you! I was thinking the same thing. I understand that women in Afghanistan go through twice as much hardships as the women in the US in half as much time (making their 30 almost comparable to our 60), but that comment came off as sounding glib.

      • Jillian Lucas

        The comparative nature of the comment wasn’t a judgement. It wasn’t a low blow at the Pakistan etnicity, but merely of the society that the woman lives in. The older American woman, because of the agist society we live in, tries her hardest to shave years off her life through botox, skin creams, laser treatments, etc.

        American woman look at least half their actual age, and when compared to a woman who does not have access to anti-aging treatments, let alone the inherent need to look young, it is pretty undeniable.

      • porkchop

        I just thought it was meant to show that life is harder for Afghan women.

        Also, if you gave this woman a facial, she would look younger than Lindsay Lohan.

      • Jennifer Wright

        Porkchop for the win!

    • JennyMac

      Jillian Lucas wrote ……”American woman look at least half their actual age, and when compared to a woman who does not have access to anti-aging treatments, let alone the inherent need to look young, it is pretty undeniable.”

      Having been to Afghanistan several times I can tell you it is a harsh environment and an extremely hard environment in which to be female. These women are the first up in the morning (actually in the middle of the night during the current season they must cook breakfast for the entire family while it is still cool outside), the last in bed at night, the last to eat, the last to wash….did you pick that up….they are last at everything. Did you notice the burka pulled up at the top of her head…did you notice the sand stuck to her skin?????

      It has absolutely NOTHING to do with her lack of access to botox, lazer treatments, skin creams, and —I can’t believe you actually said this – access to anti aging treatments. What you said was just so wrong for so many reasons…omg….put down the nail polish and read a book.

    • MM

      Whether or not it was intended that way, the comment was a little tasteless, and I think you could have taken the article in a much better direction by discussing something about the actual woman. Some other articles have talked about her life, how she’s still very poor and how she really doesn’t give a shit about being in a famous photo because it hasn’t improved things for her one bit.

    • Ally

      Um… if she was 13 in 1985, then she’s actually closer to 40 than 30… just sayin’.

      • daniel

        coz of traumas of war and everyday scenario of proverty., thats why she looks older than 30., quite sad aye?

    • Mechainsanity

      wow, i thought you were going to do something more than just spout the usual superficiality.

      it’s nice to know while others strive to improve in quality, thegloss with it’s unwarranted, cheap attack on the afghan girl’s looks by an ignorant piss poor writer and an equally idiotic editor are still keeping to as low a standard as they can go. insecure much?

    • jassi

      the lines written are definately not professional, put somebody in place having 30 year long war and ask her to walk through mountains and refugee camps its gona change….., anyways she was beautiful, still beautiful and will remain beautiful…….

    • lola m

      what a callous thing to say. so incredibly superficial.

      • d

        Thank you. Well put.

    • Victoria

      Wow, how incredibly distasteful to have the negative connotation you did with her photos. How about YOU go through what she had to endure all of these years and let’s see how you look afterwards. Keep in mind, National Geographic is not a shallow fashion magazine, but a magazine that exposes its readers to the beauty, danger, corruption and love that is in other parts of the world. She is not a model, but a strong woman who didn’t let the pain she went through get the best of her. She is GORGEOUS at age 30.