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By Selma Cook

This article is based on an interview with Sandra La Bianca, an Australian Muslim revert of Italian descent living in Perth, Western Australia. 

Sandra La Bianca believes that beauty, health, and physical fitness are important for every woman, because looking after yourself emotionally, spiritually, and physically are all important to have a balanced life. After all, Islam is all about balance and harmony.
She observes that Almighty Allah made women to love beauty and that this is a part of our nature and we just have to find a way to manage beauty and keep it for our family and home life. She adds that beauty enriches life and that home deserves to be enriched, not neglected. If a woman knows she is beautiful, even if she covers her beauty when she is outside home, she still feels more confident.
La Bianca sees that many Muslim women only get dressed up when they're invited to an "all-women's gathering," but that they don't get dressed up and be "beautiful" at home where the real outlet for their beauty is.
She teaches her Oriental dancing class that being beautiful and feeling good strengthens the relationship between the husband and wife. She adds that a man appreciates the fact that his wife has made an effort to be beautiful "just for him!"
Doing Oriental dancing and teaching it to women have helped Sandra learn how important it is to keep fit and how doing such things makes a woman feel more beautiful and confident. When Muslim women are together they can be themselves and should feel confident in their own skin (have inner confidence).
However, she believes that women should not just view one another according to their physical looks and features — concepts of classical beauty —, but every woman should take care of herself; doing so will make her feel good about herself.
La Bianca observes that this is especially so as women spend so much time looking after and nurturing other people, so sometimes they need to take time out to do something for themselves. Having a facial massage and doing some yoga, aerobics, or Oriental dancing help women relax and be more comfortable with who they are.
La Bianca sees that as Muslim women, we have to learn to work with what we have and not view one another with a sense of competition; comparing ourselves with others can make us feel discontented and "not good enough." She acknowledges that if women can learn to accept themselves just as they are and accept others in the same way, they will all be happier, content, and confident, and that a lot of the nastiness that sometimes exists between women will disappear.
La Bianca believes that women who neglect beauty at home for their husbands are demonstrating a kind of laziness. Such women usually dress up only before they go outside. They should remember that men are visual and that being beautiful for your man is a way to keep him close to you because you look good and he knows you are doing this just for him. That makes him feel special.
Sandra believes that a woman should find out what her husband likes and do it with the intention to be close to him. After all, the relationship between a man and a woman is shared and both parties should do their best to please and attract the other.

Muslims making a Difference

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