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The disturbing true story of the Afghan Girl photo (READ DESCRIPTION)

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IMPORTANT: WATCH THE FOLLOW-UP VIDEO at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q_NAEaiC9M
All proceeds (plus more) to http://sahareducation.com PLEASE GIVE
SOURCES and detailed corrections at http://sdp.io/sharbatsources (it was too long to fit into a YouTube description)


There is one major correction to the video: I now believe Sharbat was not wearing a burqa when McCurry entered the school in their 1984 photoshoot. McCurry’s team has confirmed this. A burqa would have been covering both her eyes and face; Sharbat made an effort to cover her face, but was not at the time wearing a veil that would have covered her eyes. My source indicated that she removed her burqa at McCurry’s request, but the source was referring to the 2002 photoshoot, not the 1984 photoshoot. I sincerely regret the mistake and appreciate McCurry’s team for bringing it to my attention.

To clarify, Sharbat covered her face with her scarf to protect it from McCurry’s view. As an adult looking back on the photoshoot, she expressed feeling angry at the time because she was confronted by a strange man and being scared and sad at learning that the photograph had been published. That all stands - the only part I’m correcting is that she was not wearing a veil to cover her eyes.

Near the end of the video I try to tell Sharbat’s story and I say that her mother was killed in a bombing in Afghanistan. That’s how McCurry tells the story, but according to Sharbat, her mother died of appendicitis. I’m sorry for the mistake, and for your losses, Sharbat.

I also indicate that Sharbat ran away from the photoshoot out of fear. My recollection of her being afraid was based on the caption on the cover of National Geographic. However, Sharbat’s adult recollection of her feelings in the moment was that she was angry, not afraid.


Steve McCurry's Afghan Girl (published in National Geographic) is one of the most famous photos of all time. I had planned to make a tribute video celebrating the impact of the photo, but as I researched it, I came across new interviews with Sharbat Gula from the past 2 years. Those interviews revealed the other side of the story, and that side was really disturbing.


2/25/2019: We reach out to National Geographic and Steve McCurry's team for input.

2/27/2019: Neither NatGeo nor McCurry reply to our messages, so we record and publish this video without their feedback.

3/4/2019: Bonnie McCurry (Steve's sister and president of McCurry Studios) reaches out indicating that she feels there are factual errors in the video. However, she does not provide any specific information. We immediately make the video private to give McCurry's team the opportunity to create a detailed list so that we can update the video and make it as accurate as possible.

3/7/2019: Bonnie provides a list of 3 items she feels are incorrect in the video.

3/8/2019: You can see us address those concerns at this follow-up video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q_NAEaiC9M. We also made this video public once again, in its original form (including mistakes), for complete transparency.

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