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Afghanistan: Inside Kabul’s Safe Havens of Beauty

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Mina and her friend wait patiently as headscarfed assistants apply makeup.

Amid the hardships and uncertainties of life in Kabul these days, beauty salons, once banned by the Taliban, have re-emerged as sanctuaries for Afghan women. For many, the salon experience is therapeutic.

“Women suffer the worst psychological, emotional and mental effects of this war for many reasons, so starting with small achievable steps, like making them feel pretty, at least creates some positive energy and sets the stage to work on deeper issues,” said Rima Kohli, a Kabul-based researcher studying Afghan women’s emotions before and after a makeover.

Thursdays tend to be the busiest day at salons, which are found in just about every Kabul neighborhood. That’s because most weddings tend to be held on Thursdays. Nuptials these days can be a vehicle for the display of family wealth. Thus men and women alike tend to splurge on suits and gowns and all sorts of accoutrements imported from Dubai. And for women, there’s also a lot of attention paid to make-up and hairstyles.

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Iason Athanasiadis is an Istanbul-based freelance journalist.

Afghanistan: Inside Kabul’s Safe Havens of Beauty

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