Because of the length and range of the interview, it will be split over three postings. This post focuses on his upbringing in Afghanistan and what he learned about beauty in Afghanistan.
1. Your biography states that you have six sisters. Were you the only boy?
Yes, I am the only boy.
2. What was your first language?
It is called Dari. A language spoken in Afghanistan and a few other central Asian countries inhabited by Tadjik tribes.
3. What beauty rituals did you observe your mother, sisters, and other female relatives do? A magazine article said that you learned threading by watching your female relatives, but were there any others? What about mehndi (henna), lining the eyes with kajal?
Yes, I learned most of beauty trick watching my sisters go at it decades after decades. My mom would be running around with a masque on her face ordering the staff at the house on what to do and what to cook, a sister would be screaming from pain of waxing her leg, the other would be threading her upper lip, yet another one would be painting her face… It was NICE ;-). My main inspirations were my sister Mina who did incredible eye make-up on herself in the 60’s and 70’s. She cross dressed she had a Beetles style haircut until 11th grade, then did a complete turn and joined miss Afghanistan and got very fem, my sister Shakila is absolutely gorgeous and I used to sit with her and watch her get ready to go out with her fiancé in the 70’s, my sister Trina with her super smokey eyes, pale skin...wow...great 80’s face. So I watched and absorbed these looks not from the books or movies but right in front of me done by very beautiful, very talented women who were my sisters. Kajal and Surma (khol powder) is used by men, women in children in my country (Afghanistan) so it is of course my most favorite thing to use.
4. Would you care to comment on beauty as an act of resistance under the Taliban?
On one of my trips back to Afghanistan, I met a brilliant man that produced lipsticks, nail polishes, facial bleaching creams etc in his garage during the reign of Taliban and sold them to the underground beauty parlors. Make up is IS a form of expression in today’s Afghanistan, it is theatrical and it is a way to show the world that you are modern. You don’t wear it at all and when you do… you go ALL OUT.
In Part 2, Matin talks about coming to the U.S., breaking into the beauty business, and making it.