How One Woman Used Lipstick To Take A Stand Against Bosnian Snipers

"This woman told me, 'I want that sniper, before he shoots me, to know he is killing a beautiful woman.'"

When international humanitarian Zainab Salbi began fighting for women's rights in the early '90s, she was just 23 years old. It was the midst of the Bosnian War -- a years-long conflict that is commonly recognized as beginning on April 6, 1992 -- and Salbi had recently founded Women for Women International to help females who faced rape camps and other horrors of being in a war zone.

At the time, Salbi, a survivor of the Iran-Iraq War herself, was fully committed to helping other women in any way possible. But, she admits to Oprah during a conversation on "SuperSoul Sunday," she still had much to learn. 

One of Salbi's first lessons came early in her activism, which she believed called for a certain image.

"I was taking myself very seriously. I was like the 'activist role,' you know, wearing jeans and sneakers. [I thought] to be a human rights activist or to be a humanitarian, you have to be… rustic," she says. "I call it 'uglifying myself.'   

Then, a woman from the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo changed Salbi's perspective.

Salbi had managed to enter the region and meet with women impacted by the violence there. She asked them what they wanted her to bring back for them upon her next return.

"This one woman, she's like, 'Lipstick,'" Salbi recalls. "I was like, 'Lipstick? Really??'"

The woman explained.

"She's like, 'No. I want lipstick because it's the simplest thing that each woman can put on every, single day and we feel beautiful. That's how I'm resisting the war,'" Salbi says. "This woman told me, 'I want that sniper, before he shoots me, to know he is killing a beautiful woman.'"

Later in the interview, Salbi opens up about how she finally came to see her own beauty through a simple exercise that helped her get beneath the surface.

"Super Soul Sunday" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.



Quotes From SuperSoul Sunday