If you are anything like me, you are facing so many conflicting emotions in today’s world. As our awareness as a generation grows, there are so many factors influencing who we are as women in 2021.
I was born in Iran and shortly after the Iranian revolution I escaped the country. The story of my escape and life is like the plot of a movie, but I know mine is not a unique tale. There are thousands and thousands of women out there who have more challenging stories to tell than me.
I was brought up by a mother who was strong, resilient and relatively progressive given the traditional Muslim background she grew up in. She made education the #1 priority for me and my siblings. It was drilled into me that if you want to succeed as a woman, if you want to be in relative control of your own future, the only thing that can help you is education. Don’t get me wrong, she had plenty of other opinions that I did not agree with but, by God, she made me an independent woman in a country and culture where women are still second class citizens.
She instilled in me a “Don’t be a victim” attitude. I was taught that I ultimately have a choice, even if that choice is made within limited parameters.
My first meaningful career opportunity came when I immigrated to the US and started working in a wonderful company which was owned by Unilever. As part of my job as a chemist I had to travel to manufacturing locations in remote parts of the country. We developed unique technologies and solutions to resolve manufacturing problems.
In a manufacturing environment the exposure to sexual innuendos are plenty and as a young woman I had to ignore them all and “get on with it”. As some of you may know, making a big deal about all the inappropriate comments and overtures would have meant an end to my career. Not that my employers would not have supported me but, in my job, being one of the few young women doing what I was doing, would have meant they would end up sending a guy rather than dealing with my complaints as a woman.
I knew what I was going through was not fair and in an ideal world, no-one would be forced to bear all those lewd comments. The surprising fact for some of the people dealing those comments was that “you” as a woman are more than capable of being as smart, or sometimes even smarter, than a guy in your field.
When my daughter was born, I decided I would stay home and raise her. This is a conventional role for a women. Part of it is an absolute desire on our part to experience motherhood but part of it is also conforming to society’s norms.
But, again, as a woman who was ambitious and wanted to put her brain and heart to work, I could not sustain staying at home for long and decided to start my own business. Part of that drive was that I had gained particular expertise and insight into hair and skincare products and had a strong desire to create an authentic skincare line which I believed in.
I had been working at a company that developed technologies for big companies like L’Oreal and Estee Lauder, so I knew the markets, the ingredients and the technologies. With my technical backgrounds I would watch how some products were introduced with outlandish claims and I knew I did not want to play that marketing game.
I also had been exposed to so many 'native' products in various regions of the world and wanted to develop a line of products that could bring some of these beauty rituals to the market. I wanted a brand where every ingredient used was doing what it claimed and was included in a sufficient amount to make that claim truly justifiable. As I said, I could see the marketing games others played and was after something more real.
The other reason for starting my own business was to have control over my schedule. I wanted to be home when my child was sick. To pick her up from school and to support my husband who had a very demanding job. I wanted it all and was working long hours like many of you to have it all.
Starting a business is so hard, especially when you are creating a line in the skincare market; a very competitive industry against companies with far deeper pockets. I had years of hard work, heart aches, failures and struggles. There are so many layers to a successful story. There is a famous saying that the “overnight successes” typically have years of hard work behind them.
Ultimately I have ended up at the top of a company I love, where I get to work with other remarkable women (and a couple of guys) who are juggling multiple priorities every day. We all bring our own element of genius, enthusiasm and hope to work.
I am also blessed to be living in a country where I can read what I want and hold a political view without being persecuted for it. I have control over my body as a woman and have a chance to raise a daughter that knows her worth and won’t be afraid to demand to be respected.
I know we have a long way to go to make women truly equal but we are finding our way down the path and I am hopeful that my daughter will start from a point that is further along the equality trail than where my mother and I started.
Today I feel blessed as a woman whose goal is to be self aware, loving myself and proud of what I have achieved. Going forward our mission for BOA skin care as a brand has always and will continue to be to keep telling our followers to “reveal yourself”. We are hoping to convince everyone who comes into our universe that they are perfect exactly as they are. Nobody defines them but themselves.
This is still BOA’s manifesto:
Beauty is a state of mind.
Beauty is an attitude.
It’s the way we perceive ourselves and others.
It’s being conscious of what connects us to the world.
Beauty is taking care of our body and soul.
Beauty is the spark between your skin and someone else’s,
The way it communicates your love and empathy.
Beauty is not your make up.
Beauty is embracing who you are,
And not hiding under layers of shame.
Beauty is taking the time to connect to yourself;
To connect to the world;
To be mindful
Beauty is sitting down when the world around you is going crazy;
It’s savouring a moment’s peace and taking a deep breath,
Before moving on again.
Beauty is being aware that perfection is just an idea, not a reality.
Beauty is not perfection;
Beauty is not the norm;
Beauty is not an opinion;
So don’t hide away.
Reveal your beauty.