Soon after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid to this war-torn nation. 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 the idea for the Kabul Beauty School was born.
With the help of corporate and international sponsors, Rodriguez founded the Kabul Beauty School and welcomed the first class in 2003. Well meaning but sometimes brazen, she 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.
KABUL BEAUTY SCHOOL is ultimately the remarkable tale of an extraordinary community of women who came together to learn the arts of perms, friendship, and freedom.
Praise for KABUL BEAUTY SCHOOL:
"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
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.