THE BLOG
09/16/2014 12:22 pm ET Updated Nov 16, 2014

Growing Up in Iran With Howard Stern

Howard Stern is the self-described king of all media, but, to me, he is the first man who opened my eyes to freedom.

The irony is that I became exposed to him and his raciness at a very young age while living in the repressed country of Iran. This was at the time his show was being broadcast on the E! Network. While most kids at age, nine or 10, were busy watching children's shows like on the Disney Channel, I was addicted to watching this crazy guy with long, curly hair. He seemed mean at times, yet I thought him to be genuine and kind-hearted deep down inside. His outspoken and controversial style captivated me and made me want to view his show as often as I could.

Instead of watching conservative Iranian shows I chose to watch Howard via our satellite dish. I was born in California, but at a young age my family chose to return to Iran in order for me to learn about Persian traditions and customs, which was a huge culture shock. My dad installed a satellite unit in our balcony that allowed us access to American television shows. Having a satellite dish broadcasting anything Western was illegal, so we always had to find ways to hide the dish to make sure it wasn't discovered. As a child living in a religiously conservative country, that was my only outlet. I would be glued to the TV (after my parents fell asleep) as Howard brought on female guests that exuded beauty, confidence and sexiness. They were not afraid or ashamed of showing their female prowess -- they embraced it.

This is when the power of the media from thousands of miles away started affecting me. Several of Howard's female guests were from the television show Baywatch, and so I began to watch that as well. When I saw the women on the show I started to become fascinated with their feminine self-confidence. I think what I envied most was the freedom they had that allowed them to showcase all their qualities as a woman. Occasionally my parents would take me to the beach and I would try to swim in my coat and veil which was a required covering. I kept thinking that in United States there were woman swimming and sunning at the beach without having to endure any kind of punishment -- at least that's the way I looked at it. I couldn't wait until I could return to California and could feel the warm sun on my body again. I felt It would help to give me a sense of true freedom.

It's heartbreaking to know that there are parts of the world where women don't have the right to drive a car or even to choose their own husband. Were we really born to be that repressed and controlled, or is it just destiny if we were born into such rules? I see our reason for existing is to be free, to connect with others, to explore the world and to share our experiences and backgrounds -- that way we can expand our understanding and spread all the love and passion that lies within us. To take that away from us and forbid us to live life as we wish is not what was intended for us.

People should be able to learn, to dance, to explore, to laugh, to enjoy a champagne toast as they so chose. I believe people were meant to have freedom and liberty. So what is freedom? Does freedom depend on where we live and therefore what we have come to know? Is that why these repressed countries try so hard to keep our Western culture away from their people so they don't know any better and stayed trapped in their bubble not knowing what better life is possible? I think so. That's why I truly thank Howard Stern for opening up my eyes from so far away through my little television screen and allowing me to believe and accept the true freedom I deserve as a woman. I hope to meet Howard one day in person and express my gratitude for the profound effect he had on me as a child. Now that I am back living in the United States, I cherish my freedom every day. Some people here might not appreciate how blessed they are, because they've never lived in a repressed society, but, for me, every time I go to the beach or pool without being covered up, have a beer at an NBA game or tune in to Howard Stern I think of how lucky I am to live where freedom and liberty exist, especially for women.