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Spotting a Beirut princess

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

  • ana

    I was with a group of European guys and one asked me if i am Lebanese, so the others said: are you blind, she has a natural nose, natural lips, dressed up casually, and she's wearing no makeup, of course she is not Lebanese! True, I am not Lebanese!

    April 23, 2012

  • bibi

    And that is the reason I am not marrying a Lebanese girl. Way too high maintenance.

    May 12, 2009

  • jenna

    Hahahaha at least the women listed in this article don't look like ur average lebanese nerds

    December 25, 2008

  • jenna

    What's wrong with enjoying the nighlife in Gemmayzeh or Monot ,this is not the only country where the girls get wild on the dancefloor, and since ,this is a war torn country ,plz instead of criticising us we Lebanese girls for having a good time ,etc.

    December 25, 2008

  • wissam

    Wow...since when has it become cool to be that shallow!?? The girls in Beirut are becoming more and more unnatural and it is being applauded.No wonder Lebanese guys are ending up married to foreign girls...at least then you'll be mentally challenged from time to time.

    December 13, 2008

  • Dina

    I am glad i dont live in beirut anymore.. i do not want to be labled as such

    December 11, 2008

  • R

    Lets be clear about a couple of things. 1- The article tried to be witty and funny, in a light-hearted "lets giggle and laugh at our shortcomings while inherently realizing that we are superior" kind of way 2- There was no attempt what so ever at sarcasm. Which is why the article is mildly enjoyable and at least just as insensitive. While we look fondly at the so called Beiruti princesses and their excesses, we forget and brush over the systemic oppression of women through arcane laws and enduring chauvinistic practices... worse: by raising the princesses to an admirable or enviable status we relegate women to airhead status... One final point. Before we try to emulate the "sex and the city" attitude of the West, we should perhaps emulate their rights movement.

    December 3, 2008

  • Renee

    I really enjoyed reading this article and i found it to be light hearted and witty. It is very obvious that the article should be taken lightly and is by any means a serious evaluation of all Lebanese women. Thank you Anissa for making us have a good laugh!

    December 1, 2008

  • Veronica

    This article was obviously meant at as a joke, and just like the writer says at the end, people shouldn’t take it too seriously (anyone who does, should get a sense of humor). It is quite clearly not a case study or treatise on the plight of Lebanese women, but pokes a little fun at a certain group of Beiruti females who do act and think of themselves as princesses (as anyone living in Beirut well knows). As a Lebanese woman living in Beirut, I thought it was very funny and witty!

    December 1, 2008

  • Jana

    i love beiruuuuuuuuuuuuut

    December 1, 2008

  • ramz

    a lame attempt at satire. find something new to write about--this topic is way exhausted. and kim and nadine, i'm in total agreement:this isn't how our women should be --i personally find the pllastic look terrifying and end up dating non-lebanese arab women and europeans instead.

    December 1, 2008

  • Pia

    Fun article, indeed it represents a couple of girls i know in Leb. But looking at the facts, not the stereotypes, a grimmer picture appeares. About 1/3 of lebanese women are unemployed, about 1 in 3 lebanese women has been subjected to some form of abuse (physical,sexual) in her life time, and at about 40% of women suffer from some form of anxiety or mood disorder (not to mention the various self-medicating they do with pills, drugs and alcohol). And this is just the middle class!! Writing about the lower SES, and the 35% that live below the poverty line or are unemployed is whole other post. PS: The statistics are an approximation from studies done from 2000 till now.

    December 1, 2008

  • ana

    I am totally with Nadia, very good point. I have never been to Lebanon, and I guess to say "Lebanese woman" gives more graciousness to the article and fits into the creativity of the author, but it would be very misguiding about the world image of Lebanon and excluding pf the biggest majority of women -which are just not part of that way of living for cultural and economic reasons- if the article does not clarify that it is talking about the "chick" part of female youth Lebanese society. I think women of the working class deserve some justice in this article!

    December 1, 2008

  • essam

    Helene, u really don't want such men to even LOOK at u..!!, let a lone be part of your false image conscious' life...as he will always look for & at other 'NEW' style ...a decent man want a challenge in his life & not a style to follow & just look at..!!.

    November 30, 2008

  • helene

    And what is more hypocrite in the lebanese society, is that if your are not such women no men look at you, and if you are such women, men play with you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 29, 2008

  • essam

    Some more points..some of the 'fake Princess' have to act in such away,as a good bait to hook a fish in a sea where decent quality fish isn't available in quantity anymore, cos most have left the Lebanese sea or already hooked !!..to be fair & from experience, at least what you see is what u get(or may get !!), but in other countries, Arab mainly, is 10 times worse, if not more WORSE than Lebanon but all underneath the the cloths & skin..and who drive such craze in Lebanon, are the men that think they are God's gift on earth & 100 times worse than the girls....

    November 29, 2008

  • R

    Well, thats all nice and fine. But... I would like to remind the Lebanese women who are "serious about getting a good education and finding as rewarding a career" while looking "spectacular", that in Lebanon they are treated as second rate citizens. Citizens who can be prevented by their "guardian" from traveling, and who more importantly cannot give their citizenship to their children. If was a Lebanese woman, I would spend less time looking spectacular and more trying to get equality...

    November 29, 2008

  • CEDAR REVOLUTION / GEBRAN SONS

    Very funny Anissa! Oh the fresh air of freedom and zest of life; freedom to be a Beirut princess or a Dar-Al Salib nun or anything in between. Just wondering Anisa if you have a top-ten list to recognize a Hizbollah Princess? Or should we ask Kim Jong… sorry we meant Katemi which must certainly have the mold for character, dress, political thoughts and number of kids :)

    November 29, 2008

  • halim

    If I compare with the hairy and masculine german and the hysterical and very rarely showered french stereotypes, I still prefer the lebanese woman I think ;) The life of these women is a marvellous hymn to life. they use their body as art material. it is excellent to decide to work on our bodies to be who we want to be.and the science allows it... I say why not.

    November 28, 2008

  • joe

    This is nothing new, and I like the way it has been put together. And to be fair, this is true for many girls in Beirut only, who are riding this trend more than ever.

    November 28, 2008

  • william

    Legends in their own mind... Just like their men... And you hit the nail on the head with your comment ya Issam...

    November 28, 2008

  • nadia

    Even though there is definiely a sector of Lebanon's society like that, there is also a big sector that isn't and to be honest i think it's unfair to generalise about the Lebanese women like that...i find it even more troubling when a national writes this kind of thing becasue you would think we've had enough of stereotypes ourselves, but to then treat our culture with the same careless disdain is kinda disappointing. Again, not to say this is not the case in alot of women and had this article highlighted this niche, i would have applauded it, becasue it is a funny caricature of those indeed! But this niche, which usually is presetn among the rich societies (simply to be able to afford the surgeries and the labels!) is DEFINITELY not a rule, for one obvious reason, most of the lebanese cannot afford the above!... but more importantly, alot of the lebanese still retain alot of local culture and have way more intellectual and artsy ambitions than label-whoring and partying..believe or no

    November 28, 2008

  • Lebanese Gal Living Abroad

    I think this article is hysterical! I can't wait to read MissGuided!

    November 28, 2008

  • sicario

    is this a joke ?????

    November 28, 2008

  • essam

    Spot On....But u missed the latest Mobile phone (no credits), latest car (on Finance), Latest Watch (grade 1 fake ),...God help such creatures..

    November 27, 2008

  • Nadine

    Wow. How sad... and pathetic...yet true. Is this really how Lebanese women want to portray themselves to the world?

    November 27, 2008

  • Kim

    Sorry to say it, but Lebanese women (such as those described in this article) are pathetic and look like 60 years old when they are 30 after all the plastic surgery and make up they wear. There is nothing attractive about them. they are full of themselves - that's all. All they care about in life is money and making plastic surgery.

    November 27, 2008