Meet Soraya Ahoubim
ON HER MORNING ROUTINE
I wake up at 7:15 AM and cuddle my blanket like it's my loved one. I begin an elaborate negotiation with myself for how much longer I can remain in bed, and if I really need to iron my clothes or go to the gym.
on her background and interest in history and film
My two pleasures in life when I was growing up were history and movies. I completed a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in European and Middle Eastern History, but I was uncertain about becoming an academic, so I went into film production with the hope of producing historical media. I worked with a producer who was a self-proclaimed feminist and practiced very little of what she preached. People in the film industry like to use the expression, “You need to pay your dues.” I believed this at first, but I realized I was being exploited. Then I quit and went to law school.
on getting into tax law
I started law school with the intention of specializing in civil rights. In my third semester, I took Federal Income Tax on a whim. It was the hardest exam I had ever taken, but I learned that I’m most engaged when I'm challenged. Tax is at the intersection of law, economics, and policy. It’s an invisible hand that shapes the world we live in. I was attracted to its complexity and that I was the only woman in my tax classes. By pursuing tax law, I felt like I was doing something courageous.
on her advice for those interested in pursuing law
My advice is to go all in on studying for the LSAT. Your score translates directly into scholarships. I chose a law school that gave me a full scholarship, instead of a higher ranked law school that gave me no money, which was the right decision. I got an excellent education and job. Then I treated myself to a pair of Acne boots with the money I saved.
People who are unsure about becoming lawyers, probably don’t want to be lawyers. Studying law is fun, but practicing is different. With every day that I get to write or research a legal concept, I feel incredibly blessed.
on looking within herself for support
It all comes down to faith in one's self. Other people or things can only take me so far. I’m definitely indebted to certain people, but there’s only one person who can tell me, "I can do it," when a love interest just revealed that he’s seeing someone else the night before my International Tax exam. Ralph Waldo Emerson began his essay on self-reliance with, "Ne te quaesiveris extra," meaning "Do not seek outside yourself."
on what she's reading
I’ve been reading A Philosophy of Loneliness by Lars Svendsen. It’s a lengthy discussion of a specific emotion. Svendsen spends a lot of time discussing loneliness in literature, and it’s interesting to see an emotion analyzed this way.
on her beauty routine
The only product I live and die by is Finesse mousse. I’ve been using it since I was twelve, and I haven’t found another product that keeps my hair in control. I have thick curly hair so it becomes unruly, and when I turned 30, I noticed it became drier. I spent a lot of money on hair conditioners and moisturizers only for them to make my hair more brittle. Now I shampoo or condition my hair about once a week, and sometimes I'll leave coconut oil in my hair overnight. When I wash it out, it also moisturizes my skin better than any drug store product. The hype about coconut oil is real.
I can't afford to use it every night, but I love Ayurveda Apothecary’s Brahmi & Rose Body Oil. Iranians love roses because it's our national flower. I keep perfume rose oil in two different bags and one at my desk at work so I can smell like a Persian rose all day.
on her style and shopping habits
My style is far more playful than I let on. Fran Drescher is my style icon. I like to get weird, but Monday to Friday, I have to look professional. As I get dressed for work, I think about Orwell's quote, "He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it." The challenge for me is finding work clothes that the person I want to be would wear. My go-to work clothes are Rachel Comey, but I also find pieces at Acne and Apiece Apart. Fashion is growing to accommodate more women's work clothes so that we can wear something besides Ann Taylor or J Crew.
on home decor
A lot of my home decor and rugs are from Craigslist. If there is anything you want, then chances are someone will sell it on Craigslist. The sofas and lamps are from Jonathan Adler’s sample sales. ABC Home also has some incredible deals on floor samples.
Soraya's FAVORITE BOOKS
On Love by Alain de Botton, A Philosophy of Loneliness by Lars Svendsen, The Way to Love by Anthony De Mello, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee, A Short History of World War II by James L. Stokesbury, Citizens by Simon Schama, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 by Tony Judt
Soraya's favorite movies
Gegen die Wand (“Head On”) by Fatih Akin: Akin is German with Turkish ancestry, and many of his films portray the isolation of individuals uprooted from their homeland and divided between two cultures. Gegen die Wand brings two of these people together and it makes for a compelling love story.
Divorce Iranian Style by Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini: The documentary follows women through Iranian family court. It will make you laugh, cry, and make you admire the incredible strength of Iranian women. The best part is when you get the feeling that Iran’s Islamic law courts are not more or less fair than those in America. Pro-tip: you can watch it on YouTube.
Au Revoir Les Enfants by Louis Malle: I’ve seen a lot of French movies, WWII movies, and coming-of-age movies. This is the most exceptional.
My Cousin Vinny by Jonathan Lynn: I’ve made the argument before that this is the “Great American Film.” At the very least, Marisa Tomei’s Staten Island accent is a national treasure.
Soraya's favorite places IN new york city
Frankies in Carroll Gardens for carb loading on pasta
Lover’s Rock in Bed Stuy for “going out”
Rouge Tomate in Chelsea for cocktails
Variety Coffee is my favorite iced coffee