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March 1, 2023 10:50 am

Children’s Book About ‘999 Ways to Be Beautiful’ Is Inspired by Lessons Iranian-Israeli Author Learned From Her Mother


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

A partial view of the cover of “Alisha’s Magical Red Lipstick: 999 Ways to be Beautiful.” Photo: Stan Jaskiel

Author Edna Khalily wants readers of her recently published children’s book to learn how to be beautiful in ways that have nothing to do with their physical appearance.

It’s an invaluable lesson the Iranian-Israeli author learned from her mother, she told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.

The New York-based writer — who was born in Iran, raised in Israel and immigrated to the United States as a teenager — published in late December Alisha’s Magical Red Lipstick: 999 Ways to be Beautiful in which the title character starts off by telling her mother she doesn’t feel beautiful or cool. After her mother gives her a special bright red lipstick, Alisha is transported through a portal and taken around the world to meet children from other countries who show Alisha about being beautiful through acts of kindness, generosity and honesty. Alisha gets introduces to other young girls from India, South America, England, Australia and South Africa.

Khalily was also given a red lipstick from her mother, who only wore red on her lips, when she was in her 20s and still has it until today. Her mother taught her there are 1,000 ways to be beautiful — only one of which is physical — and after she died seven years ago from throat cancer, Khalily wanted to write a book so she can share her mother’s lesson about inner beauty with others.

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“She asked me to remember her in good ways and to cherish her memories and messages with happiness,” Khalily told The Algemeiner about her mother, who was her “best friend.”

“I did not want the message to stay with me and my wish was to spread it all over the world,” she added. “I was inspired by my mom with many messages but this one was the one that stayed with me the most. My mother told us growing up that a woman is beautiful but only one way is skin deep. I asked my mom what is the other 999 ways and her answer was that it was for me to go on this journey to find out.”

Khalily — who has been a teacher for three decades and has also trained fellow educators — said her children’s book is additionally inspired by King Solomon’s poem Eishet Chayil (Woman of Valor). The poem is an ode to women, saying in part that “far beyond pearls is her value … She spreads out her palm to the poor and extends her hands to the destitute … She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

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