An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil
On Sale: April 10, 2007
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Soon after the fall of
the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan
as part of
a group offering humanitarian aid to this war-torn nation.
by men and women whose skills–as doctors, nurses, and
eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a
mother of two from Michigan, despaired of being of any real
she soon found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and
profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners
desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a
proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus the
the Kabul Beauty School was born.
the help of corporate and international sponsors, Rodriguez
Kabul Beauty School and welcomed the first class in 2003.
but sometimes brazen, she stumbled through language barriers,
overstepped cultural customs, and constantly juggled the
a postwar nation even as she learned how to empower her
become their families’ breadwinners by learning the
coloring techniques, haircutting, and makeup.
small haven of the beauty school, the line between teacher
quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez
stories and their hearts: the newlywed who faked her
virginity on her
wedding night, the twelve-year-old bride sold into marriage
to pay her
family’s debts, the Taliban member’s wife who pursued her
despite her husband’s constant beatings. Through these and other
stories, Rodriguez found the strength to leave her own unhealthy
marriage and allow herself to love again, Afghan
warmth and humor, Rodriguez details the lushness of a seemingly
desolate region and reveals the magnificence behind the
burqa. Kabul Beauty School is
a remarkable tale of an extraordinary community of women who
together and learn the arts of perms, friendship, and
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