Welcome to Beirut, where the weather is glorious, the nightlife notorious and the women are simply fabulous. Bronzed by the Mediterranean sun, buoyed up by the shipshape Lebanese economy and click-click-clicking through Beirut's smartest spots on towering heels, the reputation of these rare specimens precedes them. They embody beauty and glamour, with a zest for life and a penchant for luxury brands.
This unique breed occupies a dizzying world of hair and manicure appointments, squeezed in between workout sessions and shopping jaunts at the mall. Their evenings are completely reserved for partying the night away at hotspots in either Gemmayzeh or Monot – maybe even on the rooftop of some club du jour during the summer – which provides these luscious dames with the perfect opportunity to show off their expertly coiffed 'dos, freshly painted nails and color-coordinated designer duds.
So what if they get a bad rap in the international press for being vacuous bimbos whose only talent is to gyrate sexily on bar tops wearing not much? Don't be fooled by such superficial stories, for the world of Lebanese women is far more complicated than an addiction to collagen-infused lips, unnaturally straight noses and over-the-top bust lines. In fact, while some may be solely committed to finding rich husbands, many others are as serious about getting a good education and finding as rewarding a career as their international counterparts – with one tiny difference: They look spectacular doing it.
So, do you want to know if you have what it takes to become part of the fabulous sisterhood of Beiruti beauties? Read below.
You know you're a Beirut princess if:
1. You're running a quick errand and didn't have the time to get a mani/pedi, when you run into an acquaintance and wish the sidewalk would open up and swallow you right then and there rather than face the mortification of being caught looking so casual.
2. You're at your favorite boutique, which has just started its 50% sale, and are thrilled to be able to finally afford the new Marc Jacobs dress that you've had your eye on all season, when you spot a rival shopaholic and immediately put the dress back on the rack because you'd rather be without it than have your nemesis spread the humiliating rumor that you shop discount.
3. You think abnormally puffy lips that make you look like a guppy fish, boobs that hit your chin, and proudly walking around with a bandage on your nose under bruised eyes are signs that you are the epitome of class and sophistication.
4. You speak French everywhere you go and to everyone you meet, and on the rare occasion that you have to lower yourself to actually speak Arabic, you use a French accent, even though you've never been outside Lebanon, let alone visited France.
5. You've been on the husband hunt since puberty, although your ultimate goal in life is not to be a wife, but to have a wedding, because nothing is more important than gathering friends and family all in one spot for the purpose of admiring you and showering you with presents (you'll worry about the burdensome husband thing after the party).
6. Having a child is an extended version of show-and-tell, where you can parade your offspring in the latest designer wear for tots and you don't have to worry about all the troublesome stuff, like changing dirty diapers (ewww), which is totally left to the nanny, whom you never leave the house without because God forbid someone thinks you can't afford to hire someone else to take care of your child for you.
7. To you, the term au naturel means a trip to the hair and beauty salon, followed by a makeup session complete with foundation, blush, full eye makeup and lipstick, all in the desperate attempt to appear that you're not wearing any makeup at all – and that's only for when you go to the gym.
8. You have a recurring nightmare where you open your walk-in closet and – da da dahhhh – it's devoid of any designer shoes and bags, causing you to cry out and wake up suddenly in a cold sweat, and even after realizing it was all just a bad dream, the only way you can fall is asleep again is by clutching your Jimmy Choos close to your heart.
9. The Great Depression represents that horrendous summer when you couldn't don the hottest Dolce & Gabbana bikini at the swankiest beach in town because you gained – gulp! – a whole kilogram and your plastic surgeon couldn't fit you in for a quickie lipo session until the end of the season.
10. You can read this list and have a good laugh, possessing the good sense to recognize when not to take things too seriously and confidently knowing that there is nothing better, more fantastic or divine than being a woman and being Lebanese.
Anissa Rafeh is the author of Miss Guided – How to step into the Lebanese glam lane