Every day after school, my mom would always have a meal ready for me as we watched Oprah together. I vividly remember an interview Oprah had with Barbra Streisand. I was 9. You would think as an elementary-grade little girl, I wouldn't care to watch an interview with anyone I didn't relate to. But au contraire mon frère; I remember this day because hearing Barbra talk about her French manicure was the day I formed the belief that a well put-together woman always has a fabulous manicure. From that day on, I judged every girl and woman I met by her nails. I would see women wearing head-to-toe Chanel and carrying a Hermes bag with a five-carat diamond, but if she lacked polish and neat hands, to me she wasn't "put together."
At the age of 12, I received my first set of short pink and white acrylics (you may recall that was the craze in the '90s) and so began my obsession with my own nails. From there I have spent the last 17 years at the nail salon weekly and a total of more than $30,000 on my nails.
You see, I'm a 29-year-old Persian-American girl who grew up around some very entitled young princesses in Calabasas (the place you probably know best as the home of the Kardashians). As though living in LA doesn't already make me extremely beauty conscious, my being Persian just adds to the pressure! For most young girls, the high school prom is a big glamorous night; for Persians it's just a watered-down wedding.
By the age of 18, a young Persian girl is pretty much an expert on any and all beauty regimens from head to toe and for many in LA, already has a wardrobe that would put Victoria Beckham's to shame. The obsessive focus on all things material and one's exterior beauty leads many down a highly superficial, lost, confused and out-of-touch-with-reality path -- much like some of the characters on Bravo's own (out-of-touch-with) reality show, Shahs of Sunset.
But there are those of us who end up learning the tools to turning this crazy fixation on beauty into more than just a mindless addiction. I was raised with the mindset that I have to take something that I love and find a way to contribute to society with it. So at 22, I decided to use what I know and make a living off of it.
I set out to take on the beauty industry with what I knew to be true: If I was spending that much money on manicures, so were most of the women out there. Then I set out to find a niche to fill. Knowing the nail industry, however saturated it is, is filled with salons that don't put hygiene and comfort at the top of their service list, I went about my way starting Bellacures to tend to one's hands, feet and ultimately, heart.
So now that I've turned my own potentially dangerous obsession with beauty into a career I can be proud of, I encourage all women to do the same. And now that I am older, I see the world without the blinders of the young girl watching Oprah with her mom; I know that beauty is more than just skin deep. When young Persian (and non-Persian) girls ask my beauty advice, I say, beauty is personal and needs to align with your inner feelings; if you don't feel good, you'll never look good. That, and don't wear stripper heels that have a 3-inch platform just because Christian Louboutin makes them. Don't wear a green nail polish on your toes to a wedding just because Essie put out the color for Spring. And don't leave the house without a manicure.
Samira Asemanfar is the founder of Bellacures, one of the fastest growing nail salon franchises in California with eight salons in Beverly Hills, Larchmont Village, Studio City, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and now, Pasadena. For more information, please visit www.bellacures.com.