To my dearest reader*
I am going to do a little photo blog for you in the coming week or so about Salons in Erbil. There is one in every neighborhood and almost one in every main road. It is superb business. As a matter of fact I went to a local salon–or beauty shop– just last weekend for a trim and I came back with information about which person in the neighborhood is getting married, which is getting divorced, which in-laws are good with their daughter-in-law and which are really bothering her. I knew about how much gold one of the grooms did and even witnissed an arguments between a bride-to-be and her sister-in-law. What an experience!
Let me clarify something, there are salons in Erbil where you will not notice any of this. These include the Lebanese Beauty Center (on Shorsh road!) who pamper you to the extent that you feel like you are Miss Universe, then there are the ones in Ankawa and other places across Erbil. Some have a reputation for charging a lot of money– I don’t know if its for the coffee they serve you or for washing your hair twice even though you washed it before going there!
It is all about your financial capabilities, some people go and do their nails, because they “can’t make it for lunch because of the manicure appointment!” I really don’t like to see this emerging culture here, but it seems like it is already appearing. Then there are the neighborhood salons that provide the basic beauty necessities of any woman including an average middle class who might be a house wife or a government employee.
I wait for my turn–in this one there are no appointments, first come best served– so I take the time to 1) observe 2) Ears drop. On purpose! I must admit after almost two hours I came out a whole lot wiser, and here is why:
The really pretty girl: This was a really realllly pretty (no. Beautiful) girl in her amazing Kurdish clothing, long black hair, asking to get her make up done, she was one of the bride’s sisters I guess. She asked the beautician she wants ‘natural make up’. But I can swear it took 45 minutes to complete and the base was three layers of foundation stroked by a brush that would otherwise be used for painting with water colors.
This really made me think of the word beauty among Kurdish girls today and our grandmothers years back. If you’re a girl just take a look at the top of your dressing table or by your bathroom sink at the number of beauty products you use to keep “Beautiful”. After I returned home I looked at a picture we have of my grandmother when she was young, it’s an old black and white picture (that looks like its been brought from the world’s oldest museum). She looks… beautiful. I observe her physical features closely and wonder to myself: What did beauty mean to my grandmother? How did she keep herself looking so great? There was certainly no Vaseline, Dove, Olay, Head and Shoulders, Pantene; nor was there Fair and Lovely, Maybeline or Loreal.
I do a little bit of research, using a close friend, Google, he tells me that beauty, including that of the radiant, natural looking skin that we all want is influenced greatly by stress. I don’t need to research the cause of stress, from life’s experiences I have learned a simple equation: