The Beauty Academy of Kabul

How ironic that one form of beauty would be returned to battle-scarred Afghanistan by ugly Americans, but that's just what director Liz Mermin caught in her slim 2004 documentary for the BBC. Vogue editor Anna Wintour spearheaded the fund-raising for Beauty Without Borders, which sent an envoy of Western women—including three Afghan-Americans—to Kabul to promote women's economic independence by teaching them the hairdressing trade. Most of the students had suffered or witnessed horrific abuses and crimes under the Taliban, yet the film shows two fatuous U.S. instructors who clearly missed the sensitivity training—a new age ditz who prescribes meditation and an overweight scold who chides the students for not wearing makeup. In English and subtitled Dari. 74 min.

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