Occupation: Project Manager
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 20 April 2019
Primary Language: Arabic
Other Language(s): English
My boss and I were talking about cultural traditions she grew up participating in, and one example she gave was about wearing a special Jordanian eyeliner. This eyeliner was put on her as an infant, and she has applied it on babies as well to help ensure them to have good eyesight.
Rehab – “They have this stuff called Arabic eyeliner. So for all the girls, and it’s like black like coal, eyeliner. It looks really nice, but I think they think that, um, it’s supposed to help the baby’s vision.”
Sophia – “Oh, they put the eyeliner on a BABY?”
R – “Yeah like a baby baby. I have pictures when I was younger, like FULL on eyeliner. Inside your eye.”
S – “And the baby didn’t cry? That’s hard to do.”
R – “Well it’s like a little thing that we have. It looks like a genie bottle. It’s so pretty. It’s like all brass and the eyeliner is powder, so you just pull it through and it gets on the top and bottom.”
My boss wore this special coal eyeliner up until she was in high school. Although its initial use is to help the newborn baby’s vision, many people continue to use it as they get older. They may still believe it has potential powers to bless people with good vision. However, it is more likely that people keep applying the eyeliner because wearing darker eye makeup is common in Arab beauty standards.
I think it is interesting to learn about a culture that is heavily tied to Christianity, but still has its separate cultural beliefs. Many Christian dominated countries follow the miracles and stories written in the Bible, and I have not personally heard of many practices in American or Korean culture that are independent from the Christian text.