Deborah Rodriguez, a hairdresser, went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Soon after arriving, she became involved in the set up of a beauty school training program to certify Afghan women to work in and set up their own beauty parlors.
Rodriguez wrote a book about her experience, entitled Kabul Beauty School. The book became a best seller, and at one point, it was slated to become a movie, with Sandra Bullock playing the lead. In the book, Rodriguez portrays herself as the founder and main force behind the success of the beauty school and a savior for some of the women who trained there. However, other women who were also involved at the founding of the Kabul Beauty School say the book is filled with inaccuracies and inconsistencies, that events did not unfold the way Rodriguez depicts them, and that she exaggerated her role in the formation of the school. They say that she moved the school from the Ministry of Women's Affairs (Afghanistan) to the house she shared with her Afghan husband, and that she took over the school for personal gain. Some of the women who worked at the beauty school said that, because of the publication of the book and the details it revealed about them, their lives had been put in danger. Some also claimed that Rodriguez had not made good on promises for financial support and other help.
In 2002, Rodriguez married an Afghan, Samer Mohammad Abdul Khan, who works for Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum. She had known Khan for 20 days before the marriage, though they don’t speak the same language and he had a wife in Saudi Arabia, with whom he retained a romantic relationship; his first wife became pregnant with his eighth child while he was married to Rodriguez. The marriage with Rodriguez was reported as a happy one as late as April 2007, but soon after, she had to flee Afghanistan.
- Abdul Rashid Dostum
- Greg Mortenson
- Sarah Chayes
- Economic development
- International development
- Ministry of Women's Affairs (Afghanistan)
- Women in Afghanistan
- Heidi Kingston (2007-05-12). "Mother-of-two's transformation in Afghanistan from burka to bikini". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
- Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson (2007-06-01). "Subjects of 'Kabul Beauty School' Face New Risks". NPR. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
- ABBY ELLIN (2007-04-27). "Shades of Truth: An Account of a Kabul School Is Challenged". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
- "People looked at me like I had three heads. You could see them thinking 'She's as crazy as a loon.' And it's true that I had no idea what I was doing". Telegraph. 2007-04-29. Retrieved 2009-10-03.