This Glitter is Gold

11. November, 2016
By Adrienne

Twice a week a group of the female residents at Elpida meet up sharing tips, tricks and knowledge about one of the neglected parts of their lives as refugees – their outer beauty.  Adrienne, one of the volunteers facilitating the activity commonly known as the cosmetics meeting, has written about her experiences.

I don’t consider myself a superficial woman, but my world is transformed when my nails are shiny and pink. I have recently become connected with and deeply moved by the sacred feminine that resides deep within the women of the world. Universally, women have tapped into this divine femininity and its expression has taken countless forms. Women adorning themselves spans all ages and cultures. For many women, there is an instinctive pull towards the scent of flowers, that which glitters, or the color rose. What a beautiful and wonderful experience it has been for me to connect to and celebrate my feminine essence. We as women bond so deeply when we do things uniquely womanly like mothering, or painting each other’s nails. When we come together to celebrate that which makes us women.

As many of you know, I am currently volunteering at a refugee camp in Northern Greece. I spend my days with several women that have been stripped of their ability to express their cultural expression of divine femininity. They only have access to clothes others have chosen. They no longer have the access to the hair products, makeup, jewelry, or fabrics they once used daily. They are lucky to get a flimsy rubber band for their hair.

I came to volunteer my first day with bright pink shiny nails and the girls flocked. One of the tiny hands that grabbed had a speck of blue nail polish left on the fingernail of her thumb. At one point each of those tiny fingers were freshly painted in brilliant shiny blue. And if course I can’t say how this girl felt, but my guess is she felt pretty. Those little fingers have crossed the desert and the sea, lived in the back of trucks and in shitty tents and finally arrived here. And now all that remains is a tiny speck of blue.

So I began to ask around to see if women would be interested in developing a type of salon. Fortunately, a community forum had just been held where the residents at the camp grouped themselves by interests. One of the groups that came together was a group of hair and makeup artists (and enthusiasts). Together with a dear friend of mine we began to engage this group of women. 6 weeks later, we have met twice per week every week and the former professionals in the group give tutorials on hair and makeup to interested women. A group of ladies has come together in our salon group and truly bonded. We begin each class with a check in to open a space for connectedness amongst the ladies. We sit in a circle and allow each woman to have a couple of minutes to share their thoughts and feelings for the day. We have had many laughs and even tears. We then begin whichever project we have planned for that evening. Our last meeting, we made food based wax and facial masks. The women are ecstatic about these meetings. Almost as excited as I am.

So we meet, and talk about boys and how to straighten hair, we paint each other’s nails and are just women for a couple hours. We, in our own way, celebrate the rich, boundless, universal, sacred feminine. And it’s a beautiful thing.