Sunday, November 23, 2008


Well folks, I've been to hell and back. Well, maybe. Long story. Depression. Anxiety. Hormones. NO sleep. Bad stuff. Anyway, back to the blog. Oh, and thanks to all of you who have left comments while I've been "gone." I'm sorry I have not yet had a chance to reply to them yet.

Recently, I've come to wear the scarf loosey goosey style. The kind of oblong on top of head, wrapped around neck, maybe neck or "bangs" showing. And one day I went to the mall without it on at all. I felt more at ease, confident, and friendly. Still, for the most part, I feel comfortable with a scarf on my head, "Benazir Bhutto Style," as my husband calls it. It's the the kind of scarf wearing that would lead the UMMAH FILMS guy to get up in my face and say, "Um...That's not hijab." And then that would lead me to punch him in the chest. Just kidding. I'd say, "please move out of my way." And that would mean all sorts of things.

Anyhoo...I saw this episode of the Oprah show which "discussed" in general, what BEAUTY means across the world. Here are some highlights:

In the Middle Eastern country Oman, women turn to nature as their source of beauty. Hashima, an Omani, says women like to put dried rose petals into boiling water and rinse their hair with it. "This gives the hair a very fine smell of a rose," she says.

Omanis even have an all-natural approach to dental hygiene. "The miswak stick is brushed on the teeth like a toothbrush," Hashima says. "It reacts with the human spit and gives an orange color to the lips."

Hashima says the more color a fabric or piece of jewelry has, the more beautiful it is. However, the brightly colored dresses are often covered by a cloak like wrap called an abaya. "This is to cover up the woman's body, and it covers also if you had a bad hair day," she says.

While it's not mandatory in Oman, some women also wear a burqa, which veils the face. "It's used as a sign of beauty," she says. "It's supposed to make your eyes look really sexy."

Can you guess which country has been dubbed "the nose job capital of the world"? It's not image-conscious Brazil or even the United States. It's Iran—the conservative Muslim country with seemingly endless contradictions. In a place where women cover most of their bodies, business is booming for plastic surgeons—they're performing an estimated 60,000 nose jobs a year.

While plastic surgery is kept hush-hush in many places, Iranian women like Naeimeh and Sahar are eager to talk openly about the procedure. "Here in Iran, women do have to cover their hair and the most beautiful part of their body," Naeimeh says. "They have to reveal their beauty out from a place which everybody can observe, which is the face."

After surgery, nose bandages are worn openly like badges of honor. Sahar says the surgery is so expensive in Iran, women see the bandage as a status symbol. "I had a friend who had a nose job, and she kept the bandage, if I'm not wrong, after two years on her nose just to show everybody that she had nose job," Sahar says. Pharmacists in Iran say nose jobs are so desirable, people who haven't had the operation still buy tape for their noses.

In the United States and many countries around the world, thin is the standard when it comes to beauty. But in a West African country halfway around the world, bigger is definitely better. Mauritania is a desert oasis that sits on the northwest coast of Africa. Here, a woman's beauty is revered—but thin isn't in. In Mauritania, plump is sexy!

While it might sound nice to throw dieting out the window, it's not all pleasant. For generations, young girls were subjected to the practice of gavage—or force feeding—in order to fatten them up and make them more desirable. In Mauritania, many say the more you weigh, the better chances of you have of finding a husband.

Although force feeding is now frowned upon by the government, old habits die hard in remote areas of the country. Some young girls spend hours each day in the stifling heat, forced to stuff themselves with couscous and high-fat camel's milk. Vomiting only leads to another helping of food.

Even in Mauritania's more progressive cities, some women are willing to do anything for a fuller figure, including buying black-market drugs meant for animals.

Interesting. All I know is I never have and never will go through all that trouble to "look beautiful." You should read and/or watch the episode here to see what CRAZY stuff they do in other countries such as drink/eat collagen for clear skin in Japan or undergo plastic surgery in the slums of Brazil. What price oh beauty?