The ideal woman: eyes that are not brown, blonde or red hair and skin like cheese.
When I did something good for my mother as a child, she always said: I am looking for the ideal woman for you. A Syrian mother sees that as her task. Picking out a good daughter-in-law and a beautiful wife for her son. That “ideal” woman in Syria is tall and slender and has eyes that are not brown, blonde or red hair and skin like cheese. During weddings, mothers look for a suitable candidate for their son. In Aleppo, the wedding parties are often separate, so women celebrate it separately from the men. Women feel free to wear short clothing or lingerie there. At least, that’s what my mother says. I have never been there myself. It is a good opportunity for some girls to show their qualities to the seeking mothers. “I saw a woman in front of you with skin as white as cheese,” my mother said when she returned.
The cheese in Syria is pure white. In the Netherlands, women do not see this as a quality. They just want to be brown and try to get the skin of a Syrian. “If my mother saw you, she would immediately bring you in as the ideal woman,” I sometimes tell pale Dutch women. Yet they are not happy with themselves. Because most Syrian youth have fled, it becomes more difficult for us to find an ideal partner without a seeking mother. In my head I now sketch a woman with a yellow / brownish skin, so that someday I can call my mother to say that I have found a woman with a skin like cheese. She wants that so badly. Then I cut the line quickly, so I don’t have to tell her that she looks like Dutch cheese.