When words like “terrorist,” “oppressed,” “raghead” or towelhead” hit the ears of Muslim women, they have the power to affect their lives. Such hatred penetrates into the shadows of their psyche and affects them in a negative way. It especially impacts how they see and value themselves, and their place in society. But how can we stop allowing the opinions of others to dictate our lives? All of these questions came to mind after watching an Instagram video captioned “This is Me” by beauty vlogger Nabela Noor.
Noor is a successful Bangladeshi American Muslim beauty influencer who is using her platforms to inspire and motivate other women to be more accepting and loving of themselves. Throughout her journey, she has been consistently attacked for her faith, dark skin, and plus-size body. “When I started to create content, a big focal point of my time online would just be my size,” Noor said in an interview with BUILD Series NYC. “I would post a makeup tutorial, but somehow the comments would be about my size and there would be horrible comments telling me that I was fat, ugly or that I was a waste of space–so many things that people tried to project onto me, and I had a choice if I was going to believe them or not. But through that experience, I realized there’s a lot of conditioning that I wanted to help people unlearn.”
Despite her haters’ efforts, their negativity became the driving force for her to prove society wrong, pushing her even harder to reach her dreams. She chose to focus on love instead of hate–and not only the love she receives from many of her followers, but the love she has for herself, first and foremost. With her strong will, positive attitude, and confidence, she has not only created her own brand, but a self-love revolution. Noor is going against the grain and shaking up the beauty world and its conventional standards of beauty by starting her own clothing brand and a new standard, the Zeba standard.
And while it wasn’t easy, she found a way to turn the negative words in her life into more positive affirmations. In her “This is Me” video, Noor wrote the words that have affected her deeply such as “pig,” “fat,” and “ugly” on her face with a brown contouring cream. After a moment, with tears streaming down both cheeks, she crossed out the negative words and wrote “I love me” in concealer– a positive affirmation to replace the pain. Her video went viral because of how empowering and inspirational it is. Watch it below.
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THIS IS ME ?? In 2017, I was called a pig, fat, ugly, a monster… I was told I should kill myself because of how I look. I received thousands of messages like this all year & there have been times where I let those words destroy me. But as my confidence strengthened, I became a fortress of self-love that could not be broken by the words of unhappy people. I learned quickly that happy people don’t say hurtful things. And that happiness begins with self-love. The girl I see in the mirror is beautiful with and without makeup, whether I am a size 6 or a size 16. So as 2018 begins, I’m leaving behind all of the words that once hurt me – all of the doubt that once controlled me. No one can tell us who we are. We are glorious. We are beautiful. We are worthy. This video is a small victory in my self-love revolution & I can’t wait to continue the fight in 2018. I am not the things they say I am. I will never be reduced to their words. I am brave, I am strong, I am who I’m meant to be. This is me. ? P R O D U C T S // @farsalicare unicorn essence @beautyblender @maybelline master camo color correcting pen @urbandecaycosmetics brow box, naked skin concealer, blush in “video” @jouercosmetics lipliner tawny rose @doseofcolors liquid lip in truffle @toofaced chocolate gold palette, born this way concealer & peel off glitter liner @maccosmetics @patrickstarrr #macpatrickstarrr setting powder @kkwbeauty contour kit @hudabeauty jade lashes & winter solstice palette SONG: “This is Me” Cover by @emoniwilkins & @the7thaveband. Originally sung by @KealaSettle from the incredible movie #thegreatestshowman #wakeupandmakeup #tarte #hudabeauty #toofaced #makeup #tutorial #diy #instatut #beauty #makeuptutorial #wtfbeautyhacks #1minutemakeup #beautylook #benefitcosmetics #allmodernmakeup #makeupclips #eyeblogbeauty #hairmakeupdiary #makegirlz #beautyqueens4ever #melformakeup #transformation #peachyqueenblog
Extremely moved by her courage, I chose to participate in Noor’s challenge. I wrote the words that I have heard my whole life, some too graphic and painful to share, on my face. After the tears fell into the sink at the sight of how much I internalize this negativity, I washed my face and wrote three simple words that made me realize I should not believe the lies myself or others tell me. I wrote “God loves me.” Replacing negativity with positivity is so much easier said than done, especially when the bad things seem to outweigh the good things in your life. But, practice makes perfect.
Noor also introduced a “speak-goodness challenge,” where she asked viewers to spend the day paying attention to the things they say to themselves.
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Three days ago, I shared my journey towards complaining less + only using my words as a weapon to spread goodness. ☀️ I received endless messages of support in DMs over this challenge, and now it’s time for you guys to join me. I’m calling it the #speakgoodnesschallenge and all you have to do is SPEAK GOODNESS!! ZERO COMPLAINING. ZERO NEGATIVITY. Towards others, the weather, your food, your day, the world and YOURSELF! ??♀️ No “I hate how I look in this,” or “I hate when…” and more. I want you to try the #speakgoodnesschallenge today and catch yourself when you are about to say something negative! It’s okay if you slip up, just replace with a positive statement and KEEP MOVING! I want us all to live in a world (even if just for a day and it’s just our personal world) where we focus on the positive, think before we speak and remember that our words have power – where we speak kindly and see how that goodness brings joy around us and within us! I am so eager to find out how each of you feel after just one day of only speaking goodness! Tag a friend to do this with you! Surprise twist coming soon for a few of you who join in on the challenge! Who’s joining me?! ☀️?✨
I decided to participate in Noor’s challenge as another way to get into the habit of being more positive and kind to myself. I spent the day paying attention to my thoughts and I was horrified when I realized that what I say the most is, “I hate myself.” After much reflection, I realized that what I really hate are the mistakes I have made. The bad decisions. The wrong words. The wrong actions. I hate who I used to be and what people used to see. I am a different person now and my thoughts should reflect my growth.
I realized that the best way to protect my mind and spirit is to acknowledge the reason for why I allow so much negativity in, and to address my issues and insecurities head on. Doing so will help me make actual progress in my journey to self-love. By thinking better, I will feel better, and I can find the confidence to do better. It is unhealthy and dangerous to give attention to a negative person and the overly judgmental society we live in. No one knows us better than we know ourselves. So, it is up to us to bring positivity into our lives and live up to our own standards and truths.
Seeing how much this helped me, I was interested in having other women try the challenge to see if it would have the same epiphany-like impact that it had on me.
After reaching out to a few groups of women, a Muslimah named Dina Hassan[footnote]*name has been changed for confidentiality of the participant[/footnote] was willing to participate in the “speak-goodness challenge.” I asked her to spend the day observing her thoughts, and to journal any negativity that came to mind or is said to her throughout the day.
“There are days when I encounter hostility or negativity from the world and I just try to smile at people, be kind and just be me,” Hassan said. “I try to understand them [and] put myself in their shoes. Sometimes, I make a joke out of what was said to me and I just laugh at it. Sometimes, I make excuses for them, and then sometimes I just ignore them. On a daily basis I usually say things to myself like I am strong and I can make it.”
Hassan described how she felt a noticeable difference after becoming more conscious of her thoughts. “Now, if I am in a negative situation or am about to say something negative, I have developed a reflex of trying to find the positive thing about it, or turn it into something positive. It is a very healthy exercise,” she said. “I looked at my list and felt grateful for all the positive things in my life. It is linguistic reaffirmation of the brain, and it helps.”
It takes a lot of practice to ignore the ignorance of some people. America is supposed to be the land of religious freedom and tolerance for all who set foot in this country. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way, and innocent people are being targeted because of the unwarranted frustrations and racism of others.
At a certain point we have to make the decision– are we going to believe what people say about us or are we going to decide for ourselves who we are?
We live in a harsh world, and it is important to feel all emotions, including the negative. But being negative never helps your productivity or ability to overcome a difficult time. As the Mayo Clinic staff suggests in an article where they discuss the health benefits of positive thinking and self-talk, “Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way.”
There’s a difference between allowing yourself to grieve, be upset and let the tears out, and another thing to be the source of that pain for yourself. Having hope and faith that for every struggle and every challenge, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that God is with and there for you can make all the difference in how you come out of your struggles. Stronger. Better. More Grateful.
Nabela Noor has used her online platforms, like Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook to promote positivity and to help women everywhere change how they view themselves and the world. Some may argue that this so-called “positivity culture” is toxic and that it is promoting people to live in denial and in unhealthy, fake realities.
Stop being your own bully. We have enough people in this world playing that role as it is.
But what is truly toxic is internalizing the negative words we hear around us and allowing them to gain power and control over our thoughts and our lives. This only holds us back and makes us weak. As Noor said, “At a certain point we have to make the decision– are we going to believe what people say about us or are we going to decide for ourselves who we are? My biggest piece of advice is to know that you are not the problem. You’re not wrong. You’re not a mistake. You’re not ugly. It is not your concern how other people view you, that’s their problem. They’re still conditioned under a set of standards that have held them hostage. You are free of all of that. You can love yourself. You can be happy in your own skin. You can make the decision today that who you are is enough, is beautiful, and that you’re going to be your own kind of beautiful.” We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves.
We need to fight our own self-doubt, criticism, and fear in order to be able to face the harsh world around us, and stand up for ourselves and others. So, instead of letting words like “terrorist,” “oppressed,” “towelhead,” “raghead,” or any other insult for that matter, get to your spirit and make you shy away from being who you are and living your best life, think about all of the positive things about yourself and your life. Shift the power away from those negative words to yourself and your self-worth. Keep in mind the falseness of these statements and that they stem from the insecurity of others who want to make you feel inferior and keep you there to boost their own egos and sense of selves.
In other words, stop being your own bully. We have enough people in this world playing that role as it is. And don’t wait for others to stand up for you. Stand up for yourself and to yourself. Be your own cheerleader and number one supporter. But in order to do that, you need to learn to love yourself first.
Let’s join Nabela Noor in her self-love revolution so that we too can radiate with confidence and positive vibes that will give you the power to make great waves in the world while our haters sit by and watch.
Are you with us? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!