‘Kabul Beauty School’ By Deborah Rodriguez and Kristen Ohlson
and ‘Lipstick Jihad’ By Azadeh Moaveni
These memoirs by two very different women explore the plight of women in the Muslim world.
Deborah Rodriguez was a survivor of a hardscrabble existence in middle America and left an
abusive second marriage to get a college degree.
She took a position with an NGO that sent her to Afghanistan.
There she found that her early training in her mother’s beauty salon was a highly prized skill in a country where women had been concealed beneath oppressive burkhas during the Taliban regime.
They were hungry for help in the beauty department, especially for transforming themselves for their wedding day.
And women with beauty skills suddently found they could provide a decent living for their families with such work, which Ms Rodriguez helped them develop in the title school.
In the telling of her story she reveals some of the corruption that sprang up during the post-Taliban era, and how men continued to abuse women in that male-dominated society.
Her memoir is funny as she copes with the culture clash and tragic by turns as she recounts the stories of women, both old and young.
Azadeh Moaveni was an Iranian-American growing up in sunny California, a part of the Iranian
diaspora that found refuge in this country after the Shah was overthrown.
Determined to discover her Iranian roots, she accepted a job as a stringer for Time magazine and moved to Tehran, where she still had some extended family.
Her experiences are revealing of the stranglehold of the current regime on the general populace.
Accustomed to American freedoms, Azadeh found operating as a reporter in Iran stressful and not without menace.
She describes firsthand accounts of citizens, generally women, assaulted by the religious police for immodest dress or behavior and run-ins with the thought police.
And she struggles with the subterfuge adopted by friends and acquaintances to survive, chafing under the restrictive policies.
She discovered herself in the process and realized that she could not remain in Iran, a decision not open to most other young women of that country.