Remember a few months ago when we were talking about how to find meaning in doing nails in time of great worldwide struggle? I suggested that this business, created to make people feel good about themselves, was not only worthy, but essential in trying times. Now that I have had some time to think about it, I've got a little more to add to that.
As most of you know, women in Afghanistan under the regime of the Taliban had a miserable life. Swathed head to foot in traditional burkas, women who were caught without coverings were sometimes beaten, every time scorned.
But with the collapse of that leadership came a level of freedom for the women (though nothing like most women in the Western world enjoy) as well as for men, who themselves were required to wear their faces unshaven and their beards long. So the great powers of the world brought their military might to his country, brought down the oppressive so-called government, and what do you think everyone did to celebrate when the Taliban was finally ousted? The men went to the barbershop and sheared those government-mandated beards and the women went to the beauty parlor.
I read a great account of this in the Los Angeles Times. The paper explained that many women, especially in preparation for the holy month of Ramadan and in celebration and relief, wanted to look more attractive and have beauty services done -- and not just long-overdue haircuts.
This did not strike me as remotely frivolous. Years ago, I had a very long stay in the hospital where I wasn't able to shower. And after four weeks of my hair in an unwashed ponytail, I asked my mother to bring my makeup bag to the hospital. Hearing my request, my doctor said, "She'll be out of here in a week," knowing that when a woman is ready to look her best she's on the road to recovery. And indeed I was.
A final testament to this are the two American women aid workers who were held captive in Afghanistan during the war. They escaped with their lives and made a long, slow trip home to their families after intense military debriefings. First thing they did when they got out? Blow-dried their hair.