When all else fails, let women be beautiful. When all other attempts to civilize the beast in man have failed, let the beauty of a woman charm the savage. Let beauty soothe. Let beauty heal.
That’s what Revlon, L’Oreal, and Clairol think. These major cosmetic companies invested in a multi-million dollar program to bring beauty to Afghan women. This is remarkable, yet, perfectly appropriate. The Islamic Taliban’s regard for women was the most repressive in the history of the world. It is a marvellous thing that the major cosmetic companies of the world should step in and lend an uplifting hand to Afghani women. There are hundreds of beauty salons in Kabul now. The Taliban is gone, thanks to America, and Afghani women are feeling much happier.
The ancient Persians understood the power of beauty, too. Artaxerxes (465-422 BC) knew all about the use of beauty in the management of the Persian empire. He ruled over 127 provinces (countries), from from India to Ethiopia, and how did he seek to bring all this diversity together? Female beauty.
Artaxerxes (Ahasuerus in Hebrew) organized the first Miss Universe beauty pageant in history. Read all about it in the book of Esther. He required each country to have it’s own contest first, then to send the winners to the imperial palace at Shushan. There they would spend 12 months in training and development, and then the grand contest.
Of course, it turns out that a nice young Jewish girl, from among the ex-patriated captives in Babylon, was the winner. Esther became the Queen of Persia, all because of beauty, all because of Artaxerxes’ attempt to let each country of the empire have a place, or at least a chance to have a place, on the throne. This was rather remarkable. It is an untold story, really, and the ‘fall-out’ ought to be carefully researched.
Beauty has healing power. Yes, it’s in the eye of the beholder, and all that, but, it’s effects are the same. Depending on the “illness,” the medicine of beauty can come in exotic forms. It can be music, poetry, or affection. Sometimes, just the right face of the right woman can resurrect the dead.
Diane von Furstenberg, from a different time,
a different place.
This picture of Diane von Furstenberg was made in 1981, and appeared in the New York Times magazine section. I remember it, because I was in a bad way at the time. I was a resident counsellor in New Haven, CT, at a treatment center for emotionally disturbed children. These children were abused. I had never before known of nor seen such human suffering and psychological damage. I became physically sick myself. It was a very dark time.
Diane brought me to the moon, in an ancient sort of way. Just her eyes. The relief, the sense of healing, the beauty! I’ll never forget it. In fact, I later created a series of portraits for her, one of which hung in her 5th Avenue studio for a time. I created American Indian fashion, designed especially for her, in all the portraits.
So I have great hope for Afghanistan! Great praise for Revlon, L’Oreal, and Clairol. A woman a least has the right to her own face. Let the women come out and be beautiful. It will heal the country.