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Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil

4.0 91
by Deborah Rodriguez, Kristin Ohlson (With)

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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. Surrounded by men and women whose skills–as doctors, nurses, and therapists–seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, despaired of being of any


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. Surrounded by men and women whose skills–as doctors, nurses, and therapists–seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. Yet she soon found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus an idea was born.

With the help of corporate and international sponsors, the Kabul Beauty School welcomed its first class in 2003. Well meaning but sometimes brazen, Rodriguez stumbled through language barriers, overstepped cultural customs, and constantly juggled the challenges of a postwar nation even as she learned how to empower her students to become their families’ breadwinners by learning the fundamentals of coloring techniques, haircutting, and makeup.

Yet within the small haven of the beauty school, the line between teacher and student quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez their 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 training 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 style.

With 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 come together and learn the arts of perms, friendship, and freedom.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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 The Distance Between Us and The Camel Bookmobile

"An enthralling story from the opening page. Rodriugez's memoir captivated me with its humor and feminine power. A more apt name for a salon could not be found: that small building, where the practice of beauty is both an act of defiance and tradition, is indeed an oasis. A place I was very happy to linger in."
–Marsha Mehran, author of Pomegranate Soup

“Terrifically readable, and rich in personal stories.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Colorful, suspenseful, funny… witty and insightful.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

“ Rodriguez writes an eye-opening and heart rendering story of tenacity and courage as she empowers, employs and enriches the women of Kabul to run their own beauty parlor businesses. In her writing she gives a new voice to the people of Afghanistan. You will finish it and want to meet her!”
–Carol Fitzgerald, Founder/President of Bookreporter.com

From the Hardcover edition.

William Grimes
Kabul Beauty School is the rollicking story of one of the strangest foreign-aid projects ever conceived, the creation of an academy to train Afghan beauticians. A surprisingly successful venture, it gives Afghan women practical training convertible into cold cash and personal power, a radical idea in a country where women have the approximate status of dirt.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
A terrific opening chapter-colorful, suspenseful, funny-ushers readers into the curious closed world of Afghan women. A wedding is about to take place, arranged, of course, but there is a potentially dire secret-the bride is not technically a virgin. How Rodriguez, an admirably resourceful and dynamic woman, set to marry a nice Afghan man, solves this problem makes a great story, embellished as it is with all the traditional wedding preparations. Rodriguez went to Afghanistan in 2002, just after the fall of the Taliban, volunteering as a nurse's aide, but soon found that her skills as a trained hairdresser were far more in demand, both for the Western workers and, as word got out, Afghans. On a trip back to the U.S., she persuaded companies in the beauty industry to donate 10,000 boxes of products and supplies to ship to Kabul, and instantly she started a training school. Political problems ensued ("too much laughing within the school"), financial problems, cultural misunderstandings and finally the government closed the school and salon-though the reader will suspect that the endlessly ingenious Rodriguez, using her book as a wedge against authority, will triumph in the end. This witty and insightful (if light) memoir will be perfect for women's reading groups and daytime talk shows. (Apr. 10) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

The stories of Western women coming to the relief of Afghans have been told before, e.g., in Christina Lamb's The Sewing Circles of Heratand Ann Jones's Kabul in Winter, but never with the innocence and spirit offered by Rodriguez. Refreshingly free of lectures, her book tells how her restlessness led her to relief work in New York after 9/11 and eventually to Afghanistan. A former prison guard and hairdresser, the author is no typical do-gooder. She is shunted aside by her sponsoring charity because she has no obvious practical skills—until her enthusiasm for cosmetology is discovered by the locals, and she helps set up the Kabul Beauty School. Brash and clearly uninterested in political niceties, Rodriguez understands the needs and fears of the Afghan women who befriend her because she, too, has left a brutal husband back in the United States. She looks past culture, language, and religion to the core of pain and joy that people share. Even when facing limited choices and relentless violence, she remains rebelliously kindhearted. She is still in Kabul, now director of the school and owner of the Oasis Salon and Kabul Coffee House and Café. Strongly recommended for all public libraries.
—Lisa Klopfer

School Library Journal

Adult/High School - In 2002, just months after the Taliban had been driven out of Afghanistan, Rodriguez, a hairdresser from Holland, MI, joined a small nongovernmental aid organization on a mission to the war-torn nation. That visit changed her life. In Kabul, she chronicles her efforts to help establish the country's first modern beauty school and training salon; along with music and kite-flying, hairdressing had been banned under the previous regime. This memoir offers a glimpse into a world Westerners seldom see-life behind the veil. Rodriguez was entranced with the delightful personalities that emerged when her students removed their burqas behind closed doors, but her book is also a tale of empowerment-both for her and the women. In a city with no mail service, she went door-to-door to recruit students from clandestine beauty shops, and there were constant efforts to shut her down. She had to convince Afghan men to work side by side with her to unpack cartons of supplies donated from the U.S. The students, however, are the heroines of this memoir. Women denied education and seldom allowed to leave their homes found they were able to support themselves and their families. Rodriguez's experiences will delight readers as she recounts such tales as two friends acting as "parents" and negotiating a dowry for her marriage to an Afghan man or her students puzzling over a donation of a carton of thongs. Most of all, they will share her admiration for Afghan women's survival and triumph in chaotic times.-Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
A lively narrative of the author's experiences reacquainting Afghan women with skills the mullahs had denied them. Michigan-born Rodriguez arrived in Kabul in May 2002 with the Care for All Foundation, a Christian humanitarian organization. She'd had emergency and disaster-relief training, but as soon as her group leader mentioned at a meeting that she was a hairdresser, she was mobbed by foreign-aid workers desperate for a decent haircut. The Taliban had banned beauty parlors, and the ones that had opened since its fall suffered from years of inactivity. When her young protegee Roshanna took her to a secret salon in Kabul, Rodriguez was shocked by the meager supplies and the staff's rudimentary skills. She embarked on a mission to start a beauty school in Kabul. She worked on getting product donations from hair-care companies like Paul Mitchell. She enlisted help from Mary MacMakin, the American head of a nonprofit organization geared toward helping Afghan widows. Living on and off in Kabul, Rodriguez found a suitable building and opened her school to about 30 students, whose hard-luck stories fill these pages. Often uneducated, married in their teens, locked away to languish at home or beaten into submission, these women were eager to gain self-sufficiency and self-worth. The vast cultural gap between them and their teacher could make instruction difficult. Struggling to explain that sometimes when coloring hair, the beautician had to neutralize an underlying pigment to get the desired shade, for example, Rodriguez just wasn't getting through until she had the inspiration to declare, "Think of it as Satan! It's this evil thing in the hair that you have to fight." She became socomfortable in her new country that she agreed to an arranged marriage with an enlightened Afghan businessman. Today, she writes, "I've been renewed by the spirit of this place and roused by its challenges."Terrifically readable, and rich in personal stories.

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Random House Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The women arrive at the salon just before eight in the morning. If it were any other day, I’d still be in bed, trying to sink into a few more minutes of sleep. I’d probably still be cursing the neighbor’s rooster for waking me up again at dawn. I might even still be groaning about the vegetable dealers who come down the street at three in the morning with their noisy, horse-drawn wagons, or the neighborhood mullah, who warbles out his long, mournful call to prayer at four-thirty. But this is the day of Roshanna’s engagement party, so I’m dressed and ready for work. I’ve already had four cigarettes and two cups of instant coffee, which I had to make by myself because the cook has not yet arrived. This is more of a trial than you might think, since I’ve barely learned how to boil water in Afghanistan. When I have to do it myself, I put a lit wooden match on each of the burners of the cranky old gas stove, turn one of the knobs, and back off to see which of the burners explodes into flame. Then I settle a pot of water there and pray that whatever bacteria are floating in the Kabul water today are killed by the boiling.

The mother-in-law comes into the salon first, and we exchange the traditional Afghan greeting: we clasp hands and kiss each other’s cheeks three times. Roshanna is behind her, a tiny, awkward, blue ghost wearing the traditional burqa that covers her, head to toe, with only a small piece of netting for her to see out the front. But the netting has been pulled crooked, across her nose, and she bumps into the doorway. She laughs and flutters her arms inside the billowing fabric, and two of her sisters-in-law help her navigate her way through the door. Once inside, Roshanna snatches the burqa off and drapes it over the top of one of the hair dryers.

“This was like Taliban days again,” she cries, because she hasn’t worn the burqa since the Taliban were driven out of Kabul in the fall of 2001. Roshanna usually wears clothes that she sews herself— brilliant shalwar kameezes or saris in shades of orchid and peach, lime green and peacock blue. Roshanna usually stands out like a butterfly against the gray dustiness of Kabul and even against the other women on the streets, in their mostly drab, dark clothing. But today she observes the traditional behavior of a bride on the day of her engagement party or wedding. She has left her parents’ house under cover of burqa and will emerge six hours later wearing her body weight in eye shadow, false eyelashes the size of sparrows, monumentally big hair, and clothes with more bling than a Ferris wheel. In America, most people would associate this look with drag queens sashaying off to a party with a 1950s prom theme. Here in Afghanistan, for reasons I still don’t understand, this look conveys the mystique of the virgin.

The cook arrives just behind the women, whispering that she’ll make the tea, and Topekai, Baseera, and Bahar, the other beauticians, rush into the salon and take off their head scarves. Then we begin the joyful, gossipy, daylong ordeal of transforming twenty-year-old Roshanna into a traditional Afghan bride. Most salons would charge up to $250—about half the annual income for a typical Afghan—for the bride’s services alone. But I am not only Roshanna’s former teacher but also her best friend, even though I’m more than twenty years older. She is my first and best friend in Afghanistan. I love her dearly, so the salon services are just one of my gifts to her.

We begin with the parts of Roshanna that no one will see tonight except her husband. Traditional Afghans consider body hair to be both ugly and unclean, so she must be stripped of all of it except for the long, silky brown hair on her head and her eyebrows. There can be no hair left on her arms, underarms, face, or privates. Her body must be as soft and hairless as that of a prepubescent girl. We lead Roshanna down the corridor to the waxing room—the only one in Afghanistan, I might add—and she grimaces as she sits down on the bed.

“You could have done it yourself at home,” I tease her, and the others laugh. Many brides are either too modest or too fearful to have their pubic hair removed by others in a salon, so they do it at home—they either pull it out by hand or rip it out with chewing gum. Either way, the process is brutally painful. Besides, it’s hard to achieve the full Brazilian—every pubic hair plucked, front and back— when you do it on your own, even if you’re one of the few women in this country to own a large mirror, as Roshanna does.

“At least you know your husband is somewhere doing this, too,” Topekai says with a leer. My girls giggle at this reference to the groom’s attention to his own naked body today. He also must remove all of his body hair.

“But he only has to shave it off!” Roshanna wails, then blushes and looks down. I know she doesn’t want to appear critical of her new husband, whom she hasn’t yet met, in front of her mother-in-law. She doesn’t want to give the older woman any reason to find fault with her, and when Roshanna looks back up again, she smiles at me anxiously.

But the mother-in-law seems not to have heard her. She has been whispering outside the door with one of her daughters. When she turns her attention back to the waxing room, she looks at Roshanna with a proud, proprietary air.

The mother-in-law had picked Roshanna out for her son a little more than a year after Roshanna graduated from the first class at the Kabul Beauty School, in the fall of 2003, and opened her own salon. The woman was a distant cousin who came in for a perm. She admired this pretty, plucky, resourceful girl who had been supporting her parents and the rest of her family ever since they fled into Pakistan to escape the Taliban. After she left Roshanna’s salon, she started asking around for further details about the girl. She liked what she heard.

Roshanna’s father had been a doctor, and the family had led a privileged life until they fled to Pakistan in 1998. There, he was not allowed to practice medicine—a typical refugee story—and had to work as a lowly shoeshine man. By the time they returned to Kabul, he was in such ill health that he couldn’t practice medicine. Still,

he staunchly carried out his fatherly duties by accompanying Roshanna everywhere to watch over her. The mother-in-law had detected no whiff of scandal about Roshanna, except perhaps her friendship with me. Even that didn’t put her off, since foreign women are not held to the same rigorous standards as Afghan women. We are like another gender entirely, able to wander back and forth between the two otherwise separate worlds of men and women; when we do something outrageous, like reach out to shake a man’s hand, it’s usually a forgivable and expected outrage. The mother-in-law may even have regarded me as an asset, a connection to the wealth and power of America, as nearly all Afghans assume Americans are rich. And we are, all of us, at least in a material sense. Anyway, the mother-in-law was determined to secure Roshanna as the first wife for her elder son, an engineer living in Amsterdam. There was nothing unusual about this. Nearly all first marriages in Afghanistan are arranged, and it usually falls to the man’s mother to select the right girl for him. He may take on a second or even third wife later on, but that first virginal lamb is almost as much his mother’s as his.

I see that Roshanna is faltering under her mother-in-law’s gaze, and I pull all the other women away from the waxing room. “How about highlights today?” I ask the mother-in-law. “My girls do foiling better than anyone between here and New York City.”

“Better than in Dubai?” the mother-in-law asks.

“Better than in Dubai,” I say. “And a lot cheaper.”

Back in the main room of the salon, I make sure the curtains are pulled tight so that no passing male can peek in to see the women bareheaded. That’s the kind of thing that could get my salon and the Kabul Beauty School itself closed down. I light candles so that we can turn the overhead lights off. With all the power needed for the machine that melts the wax, the facial lamps, the blow dryers, and the other salon appliances, I don’t want to blow a fuse. I put on a CD of Christmas carols. It’s the only one I can find, and they won’t know the difference anyway. Then I settle the mother-in-law and the members of the bridal party into their respective places, one for a manicure, one for a pedicure, one to get her hair washed. I make sure they all have tea and the latest outdated fashion magazines from the States, then excuse myself with a cigarette. I usually just go ahead and smoke in the salon, but the look on Roshanna’s face just before I shut the door to the waxing room has my heart racing. Because she has a terrible secret, and I’m the only one who knows it—for now.

both engagement parties and weddings are lavish events in Afghanistan. Families save money for years and even take on huge debt to make these events as festive as possible, sparing no expense. After all, this is a country with virtually no public party life. There are no nightclubs, no concerts, only a few restaurants—and the ones that have opened since the Taliban left are frequented mostly by Westerners. There are a few movie theaters, but it’s primarily men who go to them. If a woman happens to show up, as I once did when I insisted that a male friend take me, then she becomes the show, with every turban in the room turned her way so that the men can gawk at her. There are just about no venues where Afghan men and women dress up and mingle. They don’t exactly mingle at engagement parties and weddings, either. At big gatherings, the hundreds of men and women are segregated on two different floors of the hall with two different bands; at smaller gatherings, they are on one floor but separated by a curtain. In both cases, they dress to the nines. When I first came to Kabul, I was amazed by all the stores that sell wedding gowns. There are probably two on every block. Full-size mannequins are lined up in the windows of these stores, heads tilted at a haughty angle, overlooking the street in their colorful dresses spangled with rhinestones and swathed in tulle. They look like giant Barbie dolls— all very tall and Caucasian-looking—and when I was first here, I memorized the dolls in the windows so I could find my way back to my guesthouse. I pretended that they were guiding me home.

Roshanna’s parents shook their heads and declined when the groom’s mother first came calling with cakes and imported candies and other gifts to ask for her hand, but they were pleased with the offer. Saying no was only part of the ritual, a way of signaling that their daughter was so precious and beloved that they hated to let her leave the family home. It was also the first step in a bargaining process. For the next few months, the fathers haggled over the size of her cash dowry, over the number of dresses the groom’s family would have their tailor make for her and the amount of fabric they’d give her family so they could make their own new clothes, over the value of the gold jewelry the groom’s family would give Roshanna. Her father had negotiated all this well. The cash dowry that would be paid to her family was ten thousand dollars, and she would receive five thousand dollars in gold as well as many other accoutrements of an upper-class wedding. Roshanna was not consulted about any of this. As with all first marriages in Afghanistan, it was strictly business, a transaction enacted between fathers. But she was eager to be married. In fact, she’s one of the only brides I’ve ever met in Kabul who actually wanted to get married.

from the moment that I met Roshanna during my first visit to Kabul in the spring of 2002, the first spring after the rout of the Taliban, I puzzled over the sadness in her. Why did I respond so strongly to her sadness when there are millions of sad stories in Kabul? It’s a city that’s dense with sadness. There are so many people who lost loved ones in the twenty-seven years of war in Afghanistan, who have lost homes and livelihoods, who have lost entire towns and families, who have lost every dream they ever had. And there is still the occasional bombing or surprise mine explosion that rips away the happiness people finally think might be theirs. So why did Roshanna stand out amid all that sadness? I think it was her gaiety, her warmth and exuberance, her colorful clothes and bright smile. She was trying so hard to be happy that it hurt me when her sadness showed.

It had taken a few weeks for her to tell me her story. I had noticed that she seemed to light up when a certain young man came into the building where she was a secretary and I was a volunteer with a nonprofit organization. At first, I thought she might be sad because he wasn’t interested in her, but then I thought I saw the same light in his face when he caught sight of her from across the room. I started to tease her about it.

“Got a boyfriend?” I’d whisper, and she’d blush and turn away.

“We don’t marry for love here,” she told me after I had teased her a few times. “I have to marry the man my parents pick.”

I knew that Roshanna and the boy couldn’t admit their feelings or be obvious about them—they couldn’t do a damn thing about them, in fact, because there isn’t any dating in Kabul. But I thought that maybe his mother could talk to her mother and a match could be made that began with love. My mind started to race ahead with the possibilities. Which I mentioned to her one day, but she pulled me into a dark hallway.

“It can’t happen, Debbie,” she said, her eyes glistening in the faint light. “I was engaged once to someone else. This boy’s parents would never let him marry me.”

I slumped against the wall. “Why is it a problem if you were engaged before? Aren’t you allowed to change your mind?”

“You don’t understand,” she insisted. “We signed the nika-khat at the engagement party.”

This other, almost-marriage had taken place when the Taliban were still in power. Her family was living the miserable life of refugees in a camp just over the border in Pakistan. Roshanna was then sixteen years old and so bright that she’d actually found opportunities to get ahead in the camp. She learned English and some computer skills, and then found a job as a secretary with an international aid agency. She often had to cross back into Afghanistan—accompanied by her father, of course—to do some work for the agency.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Deborah Rodriguez has been as a hairdresser since 1979, except for one brief stint when she worked as a corrections officer in her hometown of Holland, Michigan. She currently directs the Kabul Beauty School, the first modern beauty academy and training salon in Afghanistan. Rodriguez also owns the Oasis Salon and the Cabul Coffee House. She lives in Kabul with her Afghan husband.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Kabul Beauty School 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 91 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read reviews from people giving 1 star and degrading Ms. RODRIGUEZ. Shame on you to assume the author is a spy instead of a young Hispanic American who has compassion for others outside of America. It takes courage for her to step out of her element and learn from Afghan people. She is obviously better then me because with reviews from negative Middle Easterns, I would have no compassion and give it to those who appreciate outsiders wanting to help naturally.
bholas More than 1 year ago
Kabul Beauty School Review of the book "Kabul Beauty Scho". The book, "Kabul Beauty School", was written by American writer, Deborah Rodriguez. It is the story of an American woman who went to Afghanistan, the Afghan women, and Afghan custom and culture. The book described the culture and the way of life in Afghanistan. It also described the differences between Afghan men and women as well as the culture in Afghanistan. The story details the sad life stories of Afghan women and the old traditional cultural life of the people of Afghanistan. Rodriguez first went to Afghanistan in 2002, she worked for the Care for All Foundation. and opened a small salon in Kabul. When the Afghan people discovered that she was a good hair dresser and had a degree in cosmetology they strongly requested that she teach them. Lots of Afghanistan women were trained by Rodriguez and helped them develop their own careers. During the Taliban period, hair salons were banned in Afghanistan. Ms.Rodriquez got a donation from different organizations and companies and started the Kabul Beauty School in Afghanistan. Debby Rodriquez helped poor Afghan women. Rodriguez married an Afghan man named Sam from whom she received a lot of help running the school in Afghanistan but later at the end due to the financial problem she has to closed all the schools and she moved to another place with sam. People still love Rodriquez because she is energetic, friendly, kind, and helpful. She clearly loves Afghanistan and its people.
Arturo60 More than 1 year ago
Kabul Beauty School Review Kabul beauty school tells the story of Deborah Rodriguez, an American woman who tired of the mistreatment of her husband, tries to start a new life as a humanitarian. Joining the Care All Foundation, she goes to Kabul, Afghanistan as a paramedic. Once in Kabul though she decides she can better serve people using her forte hairdressing than work as a paramedic. Rather Ms. Rodriguez's fame as a hairdresser, and she decides to live with and help the women of Afghanistan get ahead financially. She soon spreads reopens a salon-beauty school in Kabul which had been banned under the Taliban. It is here that Rodriguez gets to know the city and culture of the Afghan people, which is far different from her past life in Michigan. I do not believe that Rodriguez had any intention to divulge Afghan secrets or defame the culture of the Afghan people and especially for the women from Afghanistan. However, she found interesting and made public the stories some Afghan people told to Rodriguez during the time she lived with them. It is these stories that make the book intriguing. Nonetheless, some Afghans feel offended and defamed by Rodriguez's book. Arturo from Ecuador
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is terrific - both poignant and comedic, she does a great job of shedding light on this topic without demeaning it. I joined a woman's rights advocacy group after reading this because I was so stirred. I don't know what took me so long. For anyone that's lived through a domestic violence, this book is a must.
Jomorgan More than 1 year ago
Insightful account of how one woman changed the lives of many. The stories within the book show an inside view of Afghan culture for women during and following the Taliban regime. Sad at times and very real. It shows how women lead lives in other parts of the world and how slow cultural attitudes are to change. The stories pull you in from the beginning and keep you captivated till the end. Can't wait to discuss at bookgroup.
Angela Meadows More than 1 year ago
I just came across this book and liked the free sample so well that I downloaded it onto my Nook and read it in one day. I absolutely loved it and highly recommend it.
4192PI More than 1 year ago
Tested 4real Interesting Deborah Rodriguez's book tells the story of an America woman who came to Afghanistan, and she help in the development of the Kabul hairdressing in Afghan. Most women graduated from her beauty school in other to pursuit their career, while some went back to their old life. Deborah left the beauty school after falling in love with an afghan man and become a second wife, the first wife, with her seven children lived in Saudi Arabia. When I was reading the book, "Kabul Beauty School". I discovered that Deborah demonstrated many things in the book such as, anger, love and appreciation. Deborah makes every woman in Afghan to understand that whatever situation they found their self in life, they should not give it up, she encourage them to be strong and courageous. Finally her experience in Afghanistan transformed her life and the women around her.
mmt2010 More than 1 year ago
Review by: M.M.T From Afghanistan Kabul Beauty School The Book Kabul Beauty School is about Miss Deborah Rodriguez's life and basically about a part of her life in which she lived all her life. These five years of Miss Rodriguez life which she spent in Afghanistan was unforgettable for her as she said at the end of her book. At some points Miss Rodriguez's writing was about her own experience or I should say her own understanding which was different from the culture and the lifestyle of Afghans, She was not part of that culture and she didn't know Dari. So whatever she wrote was always derived from the translation of someone else. Miss Rodriguez's dream was to do something in her own field in which she had worked for a long time. Everyone has a dream to do something in their life. Just as she mentioned in the dedication of her book. Miss Rodriguez first visited Afghanistan in 2002 as a member of an emergency relief team that was working under a nonprofit organization called Care for All Foundation (CFAF). Her background was unlike the other team members as she was not in the medical field. She did have emergency relief training before 911and because of that she was able to be part of the team in Afghanistan. During her first visit, in a meeting held by CFAF she was introduced as a hairdresser. When people heard she was a hairdresser, she made a lot of Afghan customer as well as friend. From that point on she found her way to her dream. When she came back to the U.S. she worked hard to make her dream to come true. Later she came back to Afghanistan as a helper for her own idea, which was already structured by some one else (Mary) that had an NGO by the name of PARSA .so she connected all what ever she did for her dream and they started Kabul Beauty School in Kabul Afghanistan. In her five years of stay in Kabul she worked in the Kabul Beauty School and they had four graduations. Besides having dream come true Miss Rodriguez made a lot of friends like (Roshana, Suraia , Turpaki etc.) and found an Afghan husband as well, with whom she married thought as supporter in her five years of her life in Afghanistan. Miss Rodriguez had family back in the U.S. two sons and a husband,whom she left him when she came to Afghanistan. Not because of going to Afghanistan, it was because they did not like each other. At the end of the book Kabul Beauty School, Miss Rodriguez wrote that she came back to the U.S because of the problems that she had in Kabul. Miss Rodriguez wrote that those five years of her life were the most interesting part of her life. Her dream had come true, she found a new family, and her book made her famous around the world.
MCC_Wang More than 1 year ago
"Kabul Beauty School" is a good book which enables those who don't live in Afghanistan to understand how Afghan women feel about their lives. I think it is a good book too because it enables Afghan men to know what their women really think. I learned from the book that most Afghan men think their wives and daughters are happier than Western women. "Look at them. They have no stress, no tension like women in the West," they insist. Their wives however told the writer how miserable they really were. Young women also told her how forced to marry men they had never met before and of how badly they wanted to continue their educations. Deborah Rodriquez, an American hairdresser, found a good way to help Afghan women improve their beauty skills so that they could enter the beauty business. Since most Afghan women do not work outside, a beauty salon is a good business for them because it is by and for women only. Women can easily hide some money from their husbands since men can't go in the salon. The women's earning from the salons is usually higher than the average earnings of normal Afghan men enabling the women to be more independent in their family and society. Many women want to become students of the beauty school and they can open their own business after graduate from the beauty school. I think this type of business is a good first step to help Afghan women become independent. Later we may see more Afghan women working in different areas in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, women are on the lowest level of society. They not only face the bombings, kidnappings and beheadings every day, but they must also endure arranged marriages that are usually decided by the amount of dowry their father arranges when they are young, women must endure abusive treatment from their husbands or other family members after they get married. The only place that they can get a little peace and enjoyment is in the beauty salon. This is why the writer had a chance to meet so many different women and hear their miserable stories. I think women's liberation will occur later in the Muslin world because women have so many complaints about their lives. Men will help their women too since they too will be liberated. For example, Roshanna's ex-husband also did not accept his arranged marriage with her. Even though the manner in which he left Roshanna was base, he too was a victim of the arranged marriage system. I think we should make more efforts to liberate because everyone in society will benefit.
AA86 More than 1 year ago
I liked this book, as it was interesting and easy to read. It really kept me engaged and made me want to read it to the end. I would like to say too that what Debbie did for Afghan women was wonderful. She made a big change in their lives, which was that she had hoped to accomplish when she opened the beauty school. Her students gained their independence, their own source of money, and a new skill. I wonder why Debbie did not consider that her actions could put her friends and students in danger. When she gave so many details about their lives. Almansuri, Iraq
dil420gurung More than 1 year ago
DIL GURUNG DATE- 11/23/2010 THE REVIEW OF KABUL BEAUTY SCHOOL "Kabul Beauty School "was written by American author Deborah Rodriquez. The story is not only interesting but also details the extreme determination and challenge of American women in Afghanistan. Deborah's life was surrounded by love, happiness, anger, and challenge. She worked in non - governmental organization and motivated herself to develop friendships with un Afghan society. The story began with the interesting scene of marriage ceremony of Rosanna the afghan woman and thereafter it changed into the strong challenge and determination. Despite her loneliness, Deborah proved her bravery by helping Afghan woman who spoke some English. She broke down the barrier of races and religion by taking Sam, an Afghan man as her husband. In addition, there are many other interesting parts of the story encompassing, revenge, kidnapping, and political situations which capture the attention of the readers. Therefore, despite some of the negative feedback, "Kabul Beauty School" was very entertaining because it is based on reality. Obviously, she was a brave woman who singularly contributed much to another society. Lastly, we can say that Deborah was also an optimist who overcame great risks and circumstances.
MissIndependent More than 1 year ago
When I was reading the, "Kabul Beauty School", I really enjoyed everything about the book. The book was really powerful. I learned about different ways of talking to people when they are feeling down and also how to direct them to the right way. The author of this book had a positive impact on me. When I was reading the book, I realized that we all have the chance to be free from whatever bad situation or find ourselves in such as an abusive relationship. Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan at great personal expense to become the director of a beauty school with the hope of making life better for the women there and she was successful in doing that. I really loved it when she used her own personal time to help women that she didn't know, have a better future.
Nadine13 More than 1 year ago
The Summary of Kabul Beauty School I have really liked this book because Deborah Rodriguez, reviewed a lot about how Afghanistan women are being treated by there culture. So I have lent a lot through this book. I have noticed that women don't work in public places or their husband don't want them to work around men whom there not related to. "In the book she said I have conscience, intelligence and talent but am fated to continue existence in captivity behind the bars of prison of life," all this shows that most women have no say in public, no power to fight against women freedom of speech, freedom of press and also to choose the man they want to be married to. If I can guess there are about 10% of women who are illiterates and 90% who are not educated. These women they need to go to school to prepare them selves for the better life in future rather than being prepared as house wife. In which same will just get married to the man they don't even love but there doing so because of fear of being taking to prison. All the women who are just being hidden in their homes waiting to get married at least they should take them to school even if they got married they will have some knowledge to teach they children for development of their country those women in Afghanistan they need education but because of fear in there minds they are falling to stand up and speak loud so that all the world can heard about it. But we are thankfully to Deborah because shed had reviewed some of the problems happening to some of the women there through the book she wrote. I have lent a lot about women if it wasn't for the book some of us we wouldn't have knew about Afghanistan women.
SarahMsenior More than 1 year ago
This book is a great mix of insight into what daily life is for a woman in Afghanistan, and also an enlightening and moving story of a woman from my own country. Deborah Rodriguez flees to Afghanistan from her abusive husband on a one in a lifetime opportunity. She was given the opportunity to open a beauty school where the Taliban had formerly forbid it. She shares her talent with women who may not have ever gotten the chance. She finds a new life in Afghanistan, and helps women cope with their heartbreaking pasts. This book helps to sort through the stereotypes and suspicions of the Afghan culture. This book gave great understanding of the freedoms we take for granted every day. Also how the lack of these freedoms affect women and men living in Afghanistan. I liked the different angles the author took in writing this book. She wrote from a newcomer in a strange country, to a woman who understands the heartbreak these women feel daily. I was impressed with the selflessness and deep care and love the author showed these women. I was disappointed in the author, Deborah, when she impulsively married an Afghan man. She gave the women in the school so much advice on being strong and independent; it felt sort of hypocritical of her to make this decision. Overall this book is incredible. It has to power to make you laugh and cry at the same time. I would recommend this book to everyone. It is an informative book without being boring and dry. This book has taught me so many lessons. I never thought a book about someone so far away would have such an impact on my life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Deborah Rodriguez did a great job showing the reader snippets of what life is like for women in Afghanistan. I learned a lot about Afghan customs and traditions and how they impact women and men in Afghanistan. I also got a broader understanding of issues facing Afghan women today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This autobiographical story is about how one woman leaves the U.S. to establish a beauty school in Kabul, Afghanistan. When escaping her abusive husband, Deborah Rodriguez decides to go to Afghanistan to help with the American relief effort there. She discovers that many of the women there needed a way to support their families. Deborah decided to open a beauty school amidst a post-war male dominated society. Although her attempts at helping these women appears to still be a debated discussion today on right winged radio, Deborah's effort to teach these women these skills were undeniable an unselfish and caring gesture which did provide a means for these Afghan women to succeed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author of this book Miranda Rodriguez went to Afghanistan to start a beauty school. During that time she gained the confidence of women who told her heartbreaking stories. Many of these stories if revealed could threaten the safety of these brave women. Ms. Rodriguez against the request of these women published these stories. Ms. Rodriguez promised to send for these women when she got back to the US as well as promised to give them money from the book. Ms. Rodriguez left Afghanistan saving only herself, never helped these women or gave them any money. Now their stories published these women's lives are threatened. One woman had to flee with her family into Pakistan, and others have had their lives threatened. Ms. Rodriguez sold these women for money to seek comfort for herself. Buying this book only supports Ms. Rodriguez's atrocity. For confirmation visit http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10634299
Mavis7484 More than 1 year ago
During a time when Middle Eastern women are misunderstood in America, this book offers first-hand insight into a mysterious existance. Kabul Beauty School tells of an American woman's journy into the Afghan women's world. Well written with parallels of domestic violence in both cultures. An easy read that will widen your understanding of this culture.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The true writer of this book did a good job. I just don't believe "Crazy Deb." I find it hard to believe that if she actually did any of the stupid antics written in this book that she wasn''t killed. I also became very tired of all the crying she did. I also don't like smokers. I think she had a nice little "thing" going in Kabul and I think she got caught. And "crazy Deb" is just plain "stupid Deb" for marrying an Afghani man after knowing him for two weeks.
NancyMA More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this story of daily life in Afghanistan. The unexpected care with which women appreciate and use cosmetics under their burkhas was a surprise. The mix of Western culture, concepts and thinking meeting the culture of Afghanistan was also exciting to read.
Desert_Rat More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a summer reading project and, surprisingliy, it wasn't boring like required reading usually is. I thing Deborah Rodriguez did a very dood job.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Deborah Rodriguez is a beautician from Michigan who went over to Afghanistan after September 11th to help in any way she could. She quickly fell in love with the country and wanted to reestablish the Afghan beauticians who went out of existence when the Taliban took over. Along with help from others, she opened a beauty school where she trained Afghan women to become beauticians who could then open up their own beauty salons.

This amazing true story is heartwarming yet incredibly sad at the same time. The reader learns the personal and tragic story of the many Afghan women that Rodriguez befriends. We learn of their arranged marriages to men twice their age, abusive husbands who will divorce them if the women can't bear a son, and monetary struggles and desperate attempts to find that money. It is also wonderful to read about these same women becoming independent and happy due to their education from the beauty school and their friendship with Ms. Rodriguez.

This book is truly inspiring and educational. The reader learns about many customs and misconceptions about Afghanistan and its people through the real life experiences of Rodriguez. Her desire to help the kind Afghan people can inspire anyone to do the same.

KABUL BEAUTY SCHOOL is sure to please all readers who are open to learning about a foreign people, their customs, and an American woman who felt the need to dedicate her life to those less fortunate.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book because it was captivating and had a good ending. It broke my heart to hear some of the women's stories in Kabul but I was amazed at what one person could do to change the lives of so many women.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am so glad finally some one writes what really Afghanistan is like. I was born and raised in Afghanistan. We migrated here in 1982. I haven't been back home since. Reading this book brought a lot of great memories. Bravo to you Deborah. I can not put this book down. You thought me more about my culture then my parents did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After working in Afghanistan for two years, I found this book to be very eye opening. Things aren't always the way they seem. This book is up there with 'Kite Runner' and '1,000 Splendid Suns' on must read books on Afghanistan.