Being a woman in afghan society with Afghani interpretation of culture and law and custom is not an easy job. Afghan women is facing with two different offers of being blessed and accepted by society and god as a Muslim or being independent, free and modernized as a woman living in 21st century. The idea of modernity counted equal as being beautiful is an idea that was being imported from the western activist women and international NGOs , as a model of gender equality, freedom, and beauty after collapse of Taliban regime in Afghanistan. In one hand western definition of beauty and freedom for women and in another hand expectations of society and Islam from a woman are two important challenges that women are facade with and have to be defined by them in Afghanistan. The beauty academy of Kabul started its work right after collapse of Taliban in 2013. The academy could catch high attention and support from many activist and people all over the world and led the western political and social idea of “saving” the women in Afghanistan to be settled (Jennifer, 2). The idea of freedom and afghan women libration was pronounced by specific models of beauty in western society was believed to be the best and actual way of having freedom and the only way of wining the women libration in Afghanistan “Hairdos and makeup help define a woman's persona, but at a beauty school in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban, each stroke of red lipstick and each snip of the scissors boldly punctuated a new found freedom for women in Afghanistan … The Beauty Academy of Kabul, where perms and blush are metaphors for freedom”. (Stiles, 1). In 2012 BBC published a research that shows Afghanistan had a considerable growth on using beauty products. Research shows that just in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, more than 1000 beauty salon are open and day by day the number is increasing (BBC Persian, march 2012). It is happening when most of the afghan women are still surfing from inequality and violence. Despite Kabul in many other provinces girls cannot go to school. They are living under the rule of rural leaders and still people are burning schools. Women are suffering from sexual violence and abuse in many parts of Afghanistan. ( Rawi, 116). Afghanistan is a third world country which a 30 years’ experience of civil war. Economy basses were destroyed and its economy is depended on foreign donors and NGOs so using beauty products and the economy of most afghan families are not matched to gather. Awareness can’t be the reason of this huge rise of paying attention to the beauty among afghan women because still most of them are uneducated. Women in Afghanistan more likely than beauty products need education, basic health care and awareness (Shabaaof Hizb attaher, 6) System of democracy in Afghanistan let freedom of trade based on system of American capitalism. Now this country is a shop for most powerful countries all over the world. If you search you can find French perfume. Fare & lovely, natural white and beautiful lady’s products everywhere in Afghanistan. For wedding ceremonies a family should pay about 15000 Afghani equivalent to 317$ to hairdo and beauty salons. The capitalism system with Afghani version of democracy helped women to dress and make up like western women. Television, American and Indian movies and Indian actor’s posters were the first products imported to Afghanistan even before food or medicine after war ended by collapse of Taliban regime.. Now girls dress like actress in Turkish and Korean movies and their ideal is Lady Gaga in behavior. For afghan women being fashioned and well-dressed is equal to be educated and a free woman in the eyes of new generation. The other reason for using beauty products and skin bleaching among women and mostly new generation in Afghanistan related to the immigrations. During the continuous wars in this country people was forced to immigrate and save their lives. These people adopted with new culture of host countries and they returned back to Afghanistan with new ideas, culture, behavior, religion and of course new style of appearance and living. A very huge wave of immigration from Iran and Pakistan came back to Afghanistan during these 10 years of democracy each with the specific change in thoughts and social behavior. A women in Afghanistan should manage to look modern by using modern products and to be a completely Muslim woman and loyal to her husband and family. Women should be beautiful but just for her husband. A woman can do anything to be beautiful but just for her husband as an object to be used. For an afghan woman Participating in social organizations, politics, social issues, protests or having job are counts as prohibited works and will harm the social basses and disciplines, but if that woman avoid doing anything related to the society except everyday goes to the beauty salons and west the money and her time it would be better and less harmful for society. It is a policy of taking over women in societies and limit them to not to be powerful or not to have power. It is still the fact that a woman in Afghanistan should deal with dilemma of the new ideas. In one hand those which are imported from modern countries and are being thought as modern ways of living and in other hand the cultural rules and thoughts. Women in Afghanistan had been dealing with this two opposite ideas and used to became dictated by this two side. The idea of beauty is not an internal though or feeling for an afghan woman. It was always a dictation for her and still it is. She should struggle to find her own thought and decision about the myth of beauty that each side is taking about and point out her position in it as a human with the right of chose.

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Hi Khadija,

Your post is so eye-opening. The idea that women in Afghanistan are offered more options for beauty products than education is truly devastating, and what saddens me most is that it is men's voices that dictate both the beauty standards of women and women's lack of educational opportunity. I've never understood why men fear educated women.

In the beginning of your post, you write, "In one hand western definition of beauty and freedom for women and in another hand expectations of society and Islam from a woman are two important challenges that women are facade with and have to be defined by them in Afghanistan." I was wondering how you, as an educated woman, deal with these conflicting ideas? Do you ever feel that it is hard to balance the freedom you gain with education with what is expected of you as an Afghani woman?

Warm regards from New York City, Courtney

I am serving as an ambassador to the 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. 

The purpose of this event is to create harmony, not necessarily agreement, among the spiritual voices on our shared earth.

I would very much like to bring the harmony of World Pulse voices with me. I am planning a One Billion Rising event in conjunction with the Women's Initiative on the fisrt day of the parliament. Please look at the attached links and let me know if you'd like to add your voice.

Continue being a blessing in our shared universe.