Nabela Noor Talks Self-Love and Redefining Beauty Standards
The Fashion Designer Demanding a Seat at the (Beauty) Table
Too often, the best beauty stories go Untold, solely based on a person's skin color, religion, gender expression, disability, or socioeconomic status. Here, we're passing the mic to some of the most ambitious and talented voices in the industry, so they can share, in their own words, the remarkable story of how they came to be — and how they're using beauty to change the world for the better. Up next: Nabela Noor, a Bangladeshi American designer, author, and entrepreneur.
I started making content online on YouTube and Instagram — I was just making beauty videos. Being South Asian, specifically from Bangladesh, I didn't really see myself represented in the world around me, so it was integral for me to jump on board and to make content for girls like me.
At the time, I didn't realize how many brown girls needed to see somebody with their complexion, their skin tone, and their stories or similar experiences speaking about beauty and sharing beauty tips that were relevant to them — specifically around hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and color correcting. For example, many people did not know how to use reds and oranges to color correct, and there I was, a brown girl showing you how you can make your skin look more even — and, on top of that, also sharing my experience as a plus-size woman.
I love talking about self-love and self-care, and I believe both are necessary in your journey. Something that I'm really passionate about is helping people love the skin that they're in and just being kind to themselves. That's been the root of all of my work.
The reason why I'm such an advocate for self-love is because I was so insecure for so long, and it reduced the quality of my life so much. It limited how I dreamt of my future, how I believed in myself, how I saw my day-to-day. It limited my perspective on all things in my life and my potential. I didn't see myself represented in the world around me. That impacts how you define beauty. It damaged me a lot. Imagine being a young girl and you're not seeing a South Asian lead in your favorite shows, or on magazines, or celebrated in the media. You're not seeing your body type being celebrated in the media, either.
I didn't realize that I was beautiful until my college years, because until then, I was like, How could I be when I don't see my skin, my body, or my lived experience celebrated anywhere around me? I thought that stuff was reserved for thinner women, white women, and so on. So, because I know how much it can influence the trajectory of your future, it became integral for me to use my platform to help people redefine beauty for themselves. To make my own table when there wasn't a spot for me at an existing one.
People assume self-love is a consistent line of just being very confident, but the actual act of self-love is to be kind to yourself even when you don't feel great.
When I started my brands, I realized that there's a beauty conversation that I wanted to trickle into the rest of my lived experiences. For example, I love making my house beautiful and I love making myself feel beautiful on the inside. I started to find a lot of fulfillment in helping people talk about confidence — the root of it — and helping people understand that they can define beauty for themselves. Making yourself feel beautiful and taking time for self-care can contribute positively to your self-love journey. If you look for a theme through everything that I do, I just want to help people feel good in their skin, in their home, in their body.
That became my new mission, which is why I wrote my book "Beautifully Me." I needed to talk to kids, because if kids can save years and years of crippling insecurity from their lives, then I want to be a part of that. I want to equip them with the tools that they need to know that they are beautiful, that they are unique in their own way, and that they can define beauty for themselves.
I'm finally in a place where I'm like, "This is me and this is who I want to be, and I'm really freaking proud of it." But what if kids didn't have to unlearn? What if they learned the right message the first time and then they were able to grow beautiful gardens of confidence within themselves? That was the onset.
Imagine a world where you give yourself the same generous, unconditional love you give to others — imagine what your life would look like, and go after that.
People assume self-love is a consistent line of just being very confident, but the actual act of self-love is to be kind to yourself even when you don't feel great — even when you might not feel so confident. Self-love is about being unconditionally loving to yourself, even when you don't want to get up in the morning, even when you look in the mirror and you're like, "I don't like what I'm seeing today." That still happens to me, but the act of self-love is to say, "I'm going to let myself feel how I feel today, but I know I am worthy of giving myself another chance tomorrow."
You're not always going to feel your best, but that's OK. You just have to give yourself grace, and not beat yourself up. Talk to yourself the way you talk to your best friend. If you would not say it to someone you love, don't say it to yourself. We are so unwaveringly kind to the people we love, yet so harsh to ourselves. Imagine a world where you give yourself the same generous, unconditional love you give to others — imagine what your life would look like, and go after that.