KABUL BEAUTY SCHOOL by Deborah Rodriguez with Kristin Ohlson
Publisher Random House, April 2007
In the tradition of Reading Lolita in Tehran, a look at the lives of
women in Afghanistan through the lens of The Kabul Beauty School.
Most Westerners now working in Afghanistan spend their time tucked inside
the wall of a military compound or embassy. Deborah Rodriguez is one of the
very few who lives life smack in the middle of Kabul. Now, Rodriquez, one of
the founders, tells her story of the beauty school and the vibrant women who
were her students there.
When Rodriguez helped establish the Kabul Beauty School she not only worked
to empower her students with a new sense of autonomy––in the strictly
patriarchal culture, the beauty school proved a small haven––but she also
made some of the closest friends of her life. Woven through the book are the
stories of her students––there is the newlywed who must fake her own
virginity, the 12 year-old bride who has been sold into marriage to pay her
family's debts, the brilliant former medic who has not left her house for
thirty years. All of these women have a story to tell, and all of them bring
their stories to the Kabul Beauty School, where, along with Rodriguez
herself, they learn the art of perms, of friendship, and of freedom.
Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan to transform her own life and ended
up revolutionizing the lives of many of her Afghan sisters. This book made
me feel like I was right there in the beauty salon, sharing in the tears and
laughter as, outside my door, an entire country changed. KABUL BEAUTY SCHOOL
is inspiring, exciting, and not to be missed.
-- Masha Hamilton, author of Staircase of a Thousand Steps and
The Distance Between Us.