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The Killid Group
Women flock to beauty salonsWritten by Sohaila Wedah Khamosh
Sunday, 04 March 2012 11:13
The beauty business only went underground during the Taleban years.
Beautician Suraya Anwari is at the Qaser Aros beauty parlour in Shahr-e-Naw Kabul. For 28 years she has been making women more beautiful.
She says her mentor was the famous Nadara Hayati. She was her student for a month. Thereafter Nadara left for Iran and Suraya has been training beauticians. At present there are nine learning the beauty business from her. She is the salon's most famous beautician. Her weekends are extremely busy. She draws her customer with make up before she begins. Her drawings have been put on display at the National Gallery, she says. "I do the make-up for 8 to 9 brides on Thursday and Friday nights. Once when a family came to pick up their bride they couldn't recognise her from amongst the four brides in the salon!" she says, a happy smile lighting up her face.
She considers herself an artist. "When I was a child, I was very keen on drawing. I remember I usually drew bride pictures from the papers. I drew eyes, and then I coloured it. At the primary school in Zarghona I did a painting of an eye with multi-colours. My teachers sent it to the National Gallery."
Suraya clandestinely dressed up women and brides during the Taleban years. With her own salon during the Mujahideen years, she was amongst tens of thousands of women who were forced to stay home by the Taleban. But she was not willing to stop working. She ran her salon from her home for five years, she says.
"The day the Taleban raided Kabul city, I had given appointments to five brides. Four of the girls were frightened and didn't turn up. I was dressing up a bride when several furious men burst into the salon, assaulted and threw us out. They insulted me. I never went back to the salon for five years," she says.
She says she moved all the equipment to her home. Many brides were dressed up by her. Their families would bring them to me very fearfully, often under the cover of darkness, she recalls.
One of her worst memories of life under the Taleban was when she had gone to Mandavi with her sister to buy beauty products. "I needed some necessary things for my secret beauty salon," she says. "I was in a shop buying when four Taleban came in, and lashed us on our heads, and pushed us out. They said we were buying illegal things. Why are you talking to a strange man (the shopkeeper)? What are you going to do with the beauty products? They beat us up; broke the things we were buying."
How things have changed, she says. Now young Afghan men are shaping their eyebrows, keeping long hair and shaving their beards. Suraya thinks the beauty business is not for men. "Men should be manly," she says. "Decoration is for women."