Nabela Noor is known for sharing hot beauty tips that’ll have you looking gorgeous, and empowering messages that’ll have you feeling beautiful.
Known to her fans as Instagram’s “boundary breaking” beauty activist, Noor’s M.O. is about being kind, doing good deeds, and inviting everyone to the table.
Cityline’s Tracy Moore connected with Noor for a chat on IG Live (if you missed their conversation, catch up here) to discuss vulnerability and authenticity, the importance of practicing self-love, and why you should consider looking for true love at the mall.
ON HOW SHE’S DOING RIGHT NOW:
TM: First things first, how are you holding up with everything that’s going on right now with COVID-19?
NN: Oh my gosh. I think I’m in the same emotional state as a lot of people where it’s like we’re living in a wave of uncertainty, but I feel very thankful that I’m able to be here with my family, with my husband and our dogs and we’re able to navigate through this together. And I’m very thankful for having a platform where I’m able to go through it with my followers and we can be there for each other as a community.
TM: I love how open you are on talking about your anxiety, and I think that’s something that a lot of people are really grateful to social media for, because there is space now to talk about these things and use the right language. How long have you had to deal with anxiety? Is this something you were dealing with as a child, is it new, and are there certain things that trigger it?
NN: I dealt with travel anxiety for several years, and I’ve dealt with anxiety overall in my life for a few years. It’s gotten progressively worse over the years and I wasn’t always someone who communicated that with others because I also thought everyone else was experiencing it too. I didn’t realize that what I was experiencing was something that needed help. In January of last year I sought out therapy and I’ve been in therapy ever since. So it’s been over a year, and it’s been really, really helpful to figure out ways to cope, ways to manage my stress and anxiety, and my depression, and how to remove the stigma and feel free in conversing about mental health. Being South Asian, it is not something that is openly and widely discussed, so for me normalizing the conversation and just having the conversation in everyday language has helped me feel like it’s not some big “ahh!” It’s more like, this is my life, this is my experience. But it’s been a journey, for sure.
ON USING HER PLATFORM TO EMPOWER AND SPREAD POSITIVITY:
TM: I want to talk a little bit about the positivity that you very assertively send out into the ether on social media. You talk about self-love, and how we need to embrace that with ourselves. Why is that an important message for you to be spreading?
NN: I think a lot of hurt and pain in the world comes from people who are hurt and who are in pain. If we all mastered the art of loving ourselves, I wonder what the world would look like. I think a lot of the pain that we have experienced has come from people who are just drowning in self-hate, and I just think, what if we equipped everyone with this amazing weapon of self-love? How much more peace could we see around us? How much more love could we give others, so they wouldn’t feel the need to be so self-destructive and destructive to others? So when I think about self-love and self-care, it’s not a buzz word to me. It’s truly a way of changing the world. And you change the world be changing how you view yourself in it.
I have found so much peace and freedom in accepting myself, and when you find that peace and you find that freedom, you just want everyone else to experience it. It’s like when you get that deal from the best store ever and you’re like, “did you know?!” That’s how I feel about self-love. I’m like, “did you know your life could be different? You could be happy! You could wake up and feel good in your own skin.” When you experience it, and the euphoria you get from just realizing “I don’t need to be like him or her because I am so beautifully me” – when you feel that in your soul, you just want everybody to join in. So for me, it’s just felt like a service that I could do to the world. If I can just help you in that journey, I’m here to do that.
TM: Does anybody ever just knock you off your game? I mean I don’t have over 1M followers, I have a little over 100K, and I’m super confident and I love my life. I tend to lean towards gratitude before anything else. And yet still, I can get into my comment section and just get a sucker punch that throws me off. And I’m wondering, does that ever happen to you and if it does, what is your process for getting beyond that?
NN: Yeah, absolutely it happens to me. I mean the amount of messages I receive every single day that are filled with hateful language – body-shaming, wishing death upon me, saying awful things like they would kill themselves if they looked like me – I mention this a lot in my time in the public eye because getting that message can do something to your brain. It can do something to your spirit. If I said everyday was rainbows and butterflies, I would be doing such a disservice to the reality of how important it is to pick yourself up when you’re being pushed down. I do that daily.
Self-love is a verb. It’s something you have to do, it’s an action. When someone is trying to tell you who you are, you have to consistently say, “no, I know who I am.” That’s something that I’m working on every single day, and picking myself back up when people are trying to bring me down is just as much of an exercise as working out. I really have to exercise self-love daily. It’s consistency and it’s a routine. Some days I’m sitting in that moment for longer than others, other days I’m like, “oh no, I know who I am!” and other days I’m like, “am I who they say I am?” So it’s really about navigating that and being honest with your experience.
Something that has been really helpful for me has been realizing that people often see things in others that exist within themselves. So sometimes what you’re say I am, might actually live within you and you’re trying to navigate that. And also, how you see me is based on what’s going on in your life. You’re going to see negative things in somebody if you’re just in a negative space. I don’t see people who are thriving, living their best life, who are happy, who are fulfilled, writing hate comments online. It just doesn’t work that way. So when I remind myself that there has to be a certain place you are in your life to write those sorts of words, I feel more compassion than I feel anger. But it takes time to get there, it’s not something that happens overnight. It took a lot of me trying to understand the psychology of it before I got to this point.
TM: You’re dropping gems left right and centre! I love that, because we have to stand in the fact that hurt people, hurt people, and so there are people out there just throwing shade because they’re in pain – but it doesn’t take aware from how much it hurts, so thank you for walking through the process of practicing self-love. It’s a muscle, you’ve got to work it out every day.
NN: Every day.
ON HER HUSBAND, SETH:
TM: So… everyone is in love with your husband.
NN: Listen, every day I’m just like, “God are you sure?” Only because his kindness is just so infectious and I always feel undeserving. He is one of the most amazing examples of what I think kindness and compassion is, and it makes me so happy that people love him and have embraced him… the internet has kind of adopted him as their “brother-in-law.” Literally when I went to Bangladesh, the entire nation essentially greeted him and welcomed him and treated him like he was the nation’s brother-in-law. People would want to take photos with him just as much as me, and it was just so special.
TM: I think part of the reason why people love him so much is because we see how much he loves you. How did you two meet?
NN: We met at the mall, of all places. So girls, go to the mall! We can go to the club, or we can go to the mall! My family had taken over a restaurant in the food court at the mall. It was a cheese steak restaurant and we just took over, so there were already existing, loyal customers and he was one of them. So he came to get his trusted cheese steak, and there I was taking orders, and I see him in the line and I’m like, “oh my gosh who is this cutie?!” I turned around and I asked the cook, because he had been working there forever, and he goes “that’s Seth, he works at AT&T, he’s a good guy.” That’s the thing about Seth, he has a universal reputation of being a good guy. So I took his order, and he’s a shy guy, so I took his order a few times, over several days, for weeks, before he finally asked me for my number and asked me out.
I was actually supposed to get an arranged marriage at the time, so navigating that, culturally, was very, very tough, because once we fell in love that was game over for me. Having that really honest experience with my parents, who were experiencing major culture shock, it was a lot. But I was able to share it with my audience, and they really rallied behind me, supported me, prayed for me, and now we’re about to celebrate five years of marriage this summer.
TM: And your family, they’re all good with Seth?
NN: Honestly, I think they love him more than me! I think they have a fan club for him now. Sometimes we’ll go over and they’ll feed him and make sure he’s good, and I’m like, “hello! I’m right here! I’m your daughter!” They are his biggest supporters.
ON FAITH AND SPIRITUALITY:
TM: I’ve noticed that you don’t shy away from faith, or religion, or prayer, and I think it’s nice to see a young person that is vocal about their faith. Do you feel like you’re stepping outside of a boundary when you do that, or is it no big deal to you because this is just who you are?
NN: So, I have followers from all walks of faith. I have a huge Muslim following, but I also have just as large a Christian following, and just people from all different walks of faith, with different belief systems. I also have people that are atheist. What I have found though, is this appreciation and acceptance of me talking about God, because they understand that my faith fuels what I do. When I talk about faith, I try not to be polarizing, I try to be all-encompassing. So you can replace God with whatever you believe in, but allow that to make you a better person. Allow that to influence your behavior, and your kindness and compassion.
ON WHAT SHE’S WORKING ON:
TM: What is next for you? Is there something you are set on adding to your list? Are you just going to continue to build what you have and fortify it, or is there something that you have planned for the future?
NN: Oh my goodness! So there’s a lot of fun things that are coming that continue with what matters to me: championing representation, advocating for self-love and body positivity and body celebration, being authentic to my experiences speaking for marginalized communities that I belong in – that will always continue and that activism will always be present in all that I do. I recently launched my non-profit, Noor House, which is based in Bangladesh. Seth and I have pledged to provide free education, resources, food, and housing to 20 girls that are from the slums of Bangladesh, that would otherwise be forced into child marriage or into situations where they would not be able to live their lives to their fullest potential. So that’s part of the scholarship program that we’ve started called Noor House, because my last name, Noor, means “light.” So we hope that Noor House serves as a lighthouse in the lives of these girls who may be in the darkness, and hopefully this program that allows them free education will bring some light into their lives and futures and change the cycle of poverty that has really stunted that community.
We also just launched our website, loveandnoor.co. It’s an amazing site that has so much: recipes, you can shop products, you can take quizzes to learn your love language, you can figure out what your destination vacation should be. There’s so many fun, adult-focused quizzes.
And then Zeba, of course! It’s my movement and brand focused on self-love and body celebration, and we have a very exciting launch coming up. Our sizing system is something that I will continue to be proud of. We go from a traditional XS to a traditional 5X, however our labels replace traditional size numbers with empowering words of affirmation. So, our Extra-Small is “Passionate,” our Small is “Brave,” our Medium is “Inspiring,” and so on and so forth all the way to our 5X which is “Worthy.” We’ve completely disregarded and dismantled the former sizing standard and we now have really empowering words to identify your size with.
TM: You might just change the entire fashion game by putting those words on the label getting rid of the numbers.
NN: Yas! Bye numbers.
TM: I think that is incredible.
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