We’ve been, me and my husband, invited to a dinner at one of the many relatives of his. Oblivious to the Kuwaiti tradition of making a walking canvas of myself just to silently compete with other women otherwise they’ll think I’m ugly (or poor), I’d put on my black abaya and scarf with small decoration on the sleeves and scarf, no make-up (which is my tradition), and no camel-hump (I don’t have enough hair to do it even if I wanted to, European genes are talking).
When I came, I was already partially overwhelmed by the glitter in the guest living room, all decorated in heavy baroque-like look, just in violet and silver, with very heavy, sturdy furniture.
I though didn’t, in all my innocence, expect what was coming (and that wasn’t even remotely close to a wedding party). Many women came into the room cloaked in black overhead abayas and bishts, but when the door closed (the men were gathering on a different floor of the house, and as I found out later, it was only about six or seven men, while downstairs I was being examined as a newcomer by nearly twenty piercing pairs of eyes), and their abayas got folded next to them… my eyes started to hurt from all the glitter and sparkles.
Image courtesy: Unknown source from Google.com
Arab women, Khaleeji particularly, love to blink. Small glitters, big glitters, silver and gold, diamonds and Swarowski crystals, and sixties inspired designs on clothes worn at home or under abayas decorated by, once again, something shiny, and a lot of accessories, rings, bracelets, heavy earrings and other unthinkable decorations; that’s all it takes to be happy among other women and to feel intimidating enough towards each other. To that, of course, is not-much-less-glittery and fancy make-up, sometimes literally re-painting the whole God’s creation, sometimes less and sometimes more, but surely often enough on a big part of population – even early in the morning. Occasions such as dinners, parties and weddings serve as an amplifier to all the regular glittering and make it all one big shine-factory.
Needless to say, that in all my natural modesty and shyness, I still felt a little bit too much as a grey mouse in there – but honestly, the imagination of making my face look like that scared me much more, really. It still hangs above me as the sword of Damocles anyway, as my wedding party still didn’t happen (unlike the marriage on paper).
I’ve got along the sixties fashion ’cause I am a bit on the hippie side, as my dear husband says, and I like to wear such dresses and shirts (without the blinkies, though); but I assume it will take some time to get used to all the sparkling of many Kuwaiti women, my sisters-in-law included.
If nothing, people will assume I’m a really religious person, rather than poor. And that’s good, right?