Batoul (21)

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People used to tell me sometimes that I was almost like a boy. I was a tomboy. Didn’t like dolls or barbies. I wanted to climb trees with my brother and play football with the boys. My mother was always tough as well. She’s independent, has self-confidence, doesn’t get scared and never cries. So that’s probably where I got that from.

 

I used to think that I could have a cool life when I grew up by starting my own clothing and shoe brand. I like clothes and shoes, and I have my own, unique perspective. Who says, for example, that beauty is measured by how much make-up you smear across your face? If you ask me, you can be pretty by not wearing any make-up at all. And by dressing casually in a pair of well-designed jeans and top; cotton preferably – I love cotton as far as fabrics are concerned. I like robust, raw beauty. I always thought: once my business is up and running, I want to be the fashion model for my own brand.

 

My life is pretty cool now, if you ask me. Although it does look different than I thought it would. I sell shoes in a store in Lebanon. What can I say? The war forces you to adjust your plans. One day my parents decided that we would flee; by the next day we were in Lebanon. That was a big shift. Our house has been destroyed, Lebanon smells very differently from my what I was used to in Syria, I don’t have the same options available to me anymore. But I think I’m coping pretty well actually. I may be selling someone else’s shoes, but at the same time I’m supporting my parents with my pay. I’ve grown to love my work. The sneaker department especially. Sneakers are comfortable and fun. If I miss a day, it feels wrong – like something is missing.

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'My mother was always tough as well. She’s independent, has self-confidence, doesn’t get scared and never cries. So that’s probably where I got that from.'

Batoul (21 years old, fled from Syria) about her mom 

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