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Spc. Christy Gunther, near wall, and Spc. Shelly Gruener, both truck drivers from the 1742nd Transportation Company get a pedicure from Nisha Jamal Deen and Margi Bangog.
Spc. Christy Gunther, near wall, and Spc. Shelly Gruener, both truck drivers from the 1742nd Transportation Company get a pedicure from Nisha Jamal Deen and Margi Bangog. (Jessica Inigo / S&S)
Spc. Christy Gunther, near wall, and Spc. Shelly Gruener, both truck drivers from the 1742nd Transportation Company get a pedicure from Nisha Jamal Deen and Margi Bangog.
Spc. Christy Gunther, near wall, and Spc. Shelly Gruener, both truck drivers from the 1742nd Transportation Company get a pedicure from Nisha Jamal Deen and Margi Bangog. (Jessica Inigo / S&S)
Sgt. Peter Josef Dunning, of Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 146th Field Artillery Regiment, joins in the male movement of caring for hands and feet more and receives a manicure as often as possible, from Evelyn Alcantara. Dunning said he enjoys the atmosphere in the beauty shop and doesn't mind that it's smaller than the barbershops on the camp.
Sgt. Peter Josef Dunning, of Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 146th Field Artillery Regiment, joins in the male movement of caring for hands and feet more and receives a manicure as often as possible, from Evelyn Alcantara. Dunning said he enjoys the atmosphere in the beauty shop and doesn't mind that it's smaller than the barbershops on the camp. (Jessica Inigo / S&S)
Spc. Lynda Youngs, of the 1836th Transportation Company, tries to lighten her hair for a dramatic change. Nisha Jamal Deen, a beautician of five years, has some problems getting Youngs hair to lighten to an ash blonde, but she doesn't give up trying.
Spc. Lynda Youngs, of the 1836th Transportation Company, tries to lighten her hair for a dramatic change. Nisha Jamal Deen, a beautician of five years, has some problems getting Youngs hair to lighten to an ash blonde, but she doesn't give up trying. (Jessica Inigo / S&S)
Evelyn Alcantara, 26, a beautician of seven years from the Philippines, gives Staff Sgt. Mark Johnson of the 2123rd Transportation Company, a pedicure. Beauty shop employees say that sometimes men frequent the shop more often than women. Nisha Jamal Deen calls male pedicures "impossible feet."
Evelyn Alcantara, 26, a beautician of seven years from the Philippines, gives Staff Sgt. Mark Johnson of the 2123rd Transportation Company, a pedicure. Beauty shop employees say that sometimes men frequent the shop more often than women. Nisha Jamal Deen calls male pedicures "impossible feet." (Jessica Inigo / S&S)
Spc. Lee Moses, a mechanic on Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, gets a hair cut from Evelyn Alcantara, a hairstylist of seven years from the Philippines, while Sgt. 1st Class Julie Scott, of the 1244th Transportation Company, gets a pedicure from Margi Bangog, who has been a beautician for 12 years in the Philippines. Moses and Scott said all the employees know what they're doing and do their best to pamper their customers.
Spc. Lee Moses, a mechanic on Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, gets a hair cut from Evelyn Alcantara, a hairstylist of seven years from the Philippines, while Sgt. 1st Class Julie Scott, of the 1244th Transportation Company, gets a pedicure from Margi Bangog, who has been a beautician for 12 years in the Philippines. Moses and Scott said all the employees know what they're doing and do their best to pamper their customers. (Jessica Inigo / S&S)

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — Female troops walk through a nondescript wooden door at the back of a barber-and-alteration shop and walk out looking like ladies.

Sometimes the transformation is noticeable only in the attitude, other times in the untangled tresses and shining faces. Either way, the beauty shop at Arifjan makes these women “very sexy.”

Either that or “bee-you-tee- ful,” as Nisha Jamal Deen, 25, of Sri Lanka, chooses to say with a raspy, accented voice to her customers as they walk through the door. They always respond with blushed cheeks and a smile under sun-kissed skin.

Though no bigger than most storage closets at other salons — with only two cutting chairs, one sink and a five-seat waiting/manicure/pedicure area — women notice only the comforting smells of hair dye, the soothing hum of blow dryers and the relaxing sounds of snipping scissors.

“I didn’t know they had one here. When I found out, I was, like, ‘woo-hoo!’” gushed Sgt. Roxy Peterson, of the 1742nd Transportation Company, as she waited to go home after 18 months at Camp Anaconda, Iraq.

Throughout her deployment she cut her hair only once, while on Rest and Recuperation leave, at the Qatar beauty salon. This was her second chance.

With haircuts, perms, highlights, color, deep conditioners, manicures, pedicures and facials all on the menu, women say it’s easy to forget the harshness of a desert deployment, and they enjoy being spoiled.

But it’s not just women who take advantage of the salon, according to Deen, “because sometimes ... guys” come to get pampered as well.

“It sucks because [the men] have two barber shops — another also in Zone 1 on Arifjan — and we only have this,” said Spc. Lee Moses, a mechanic stationed at Camp Arifjan, pointing to two chairs, while she received a manicure. Right outside the door of the beauty salon is a barbershop that is more than four times the size of the beauty salon.

Still, women on Arifjan say it’s not the size that counts.

“This is the best thing the Army could have put here,” said Sgt. 1st Class Julie Scott, of the 1244th Transportation Company. “It brings back what some of us are used to back at home.”

Men, like Sgt. Charles Jackson, of the 233rd Transportation Company, agree.

“With more and more men, especially in the States, starting to pay attention to how their hands and feet look, the beauty shop won’t be able to serve all its customers soon,” Jackson said.

His friend, Sgt. Marlowe Williams, also of the 233rd, who gets a pedicure just about every two weeks, echoed that sentiment.

“This place definitely needs more room, and a big stereo right over there,” Williams said, pointing to a space filled with different shades of nail polish in the waiting room.

Though new stores will be sprouting up within a week in Iraq, men and women deployed to, and moving through, Kuwait will simply have to deal with the tight quarters and the simple radio that blares chick bands.

Besides, it doesn’t take too much room to feel pretty.

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