Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Book Review: Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez
So, because I'm stuck at home and sick today, I had a chance to catch up with my reading. I just finished this book of memoirs that a woman wrote about her experiences in Afghanistan in developing a school for women to learn beauty skills that they can use to produce income for their families. It reminds me of the old adage... "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, and you feed him for life". What I liked more than anything in the book is her culturally-aware approach to her work. She, being an American, didn't push western ideas of what beauty is on the women she taught at her school, but rather helped them to develop what skills were almost entirely lost due to the Taliban occupation of Afghanistan. Obviously - Afghanistan - being a country rich in multi-culturalism and tradition, there has been many centuries of beauty regime practiced there. Unfortunately, like most things cultural, those traditions were squashed by the Taliban. So, women in Afghanistan had some small amount of beauty skills when Debbie arrived, but they needed fine tuning in a major way. Like I said, she encouraged the students to practice their own idea of what beauty is, enhancing their knowledge of color theory and proper hygeine among other things. I personally have no interest in beauty skills whatsoever. As many of you know, I'm granola all the way most of the time; but the book really was about empowering women who need empowering more than ever in the new Afghanistan. Let us hope that this country which has seen more violence and oppression over the last century (from various sources) rediscovers it's sense of self (in other words, not in a western way but in it's own - Afghan way) I love reading books about Afghanistan. Many of you may have read "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini; or my personal favorite by him... "A Thousand Splendid Suns" He's a great writer, and amazingly, he too captures the spirit of Afghani women in their plight. Which is an amazing feat for an Afghani man to do. (even one westernized like him) The truth is, the women of Afghanistan are amazing. They are heroes, and survivors, and each one has their own story to tell. I would love to hear all of them. They are heart-breaking, but they are stories that somehow encourage one to do better, because if they have survived all that, what do I have to complain about really? I have a cold? I can't sell my car? What the &$%& is wrong with me? Anyway, totally worth reading, you should pick it up.