Nabela Noor wears a lot of hats. In her personal life, she’s a daughter, sister, friend, loving wife and jubilant mom-to-be. Professionally, Nabela is a content creator, a designer and a CEO. Her entrepreneurial spirit is nearly unstoppable. Recently, Nabela Noor has added another feather to her already very accomplished cap: She is a published children’s author.
Her children’s book, ‘Beautifully Me,’ is on shelves now. It follows a day in the life of Zubi, a Bangladeshi girl who, through observation and important conversation, learns that self-love is for everyone, and beauty is more than skin deep.
Nabela sat down with Scary Mommy for a chat about Zubi, self-love and her next great adventure: motherhood. Here’s what she had to say.
Nabela Noor wrote Beautifully Me for kids— but there’s an important message for adults, too.
“I have spent the majority of my career talking about self-love and truly unapologetic confidence. That has been the theme, the constant through-line in everything I do. It’s been such a rewarding experience to help people unlearn toxic beauty standards, to help them undo the conditioning that convinced them that they were not beautiful as they were,” Nabela shares.
“But I thought to myself, ‘Here I am helping people unlearn, but what would happen if I helped young ones learn the correct message the first time, so they didn’t have to unlearn anything because they’ve been nurtured at the root?’ I just thought of the trunk of a tree. Here I am trying to help the branches, but the trunk is where it all starts. I thought, ‘Let me create a tool that has a message for both the adult reading and the child learning.'”
Nabela’s Bengali culture is reflected and celebrated all throughout Beautifully Me.
“Growing up, I loved reading books, but in the books I read, the main character did not look like me, her story didn’t resemble mine. There weren’t the cultural parallels. It very much led me to feel different, but not in a way that was celebrated. I know that this book would have truly made a big difference for me growing up if I had seen someone that looked like me and my language celebrated in a text. That’s why it was important to me to include the Bangla language and to have Bengali words in a glossary at the end. I just really wanted this to feel like a celebration of a really underrepresented community. I hope boys and girls everywhere read it and they feel seen in some capacity through the text and the beautiful imagery that Nabi H. Ali so beautifully created,” Nabela explains.
“Representation matters, and children need to feel seen. Growing up I didn’t feel beautiful because I didn’t see people like me celebrated as beautiful.”
Zubi is beautifully Zubi—but she’s also a mirror of Nabela in her younger years.
“I wrote this for my future child, and I wrote this for younger me,” says Nabela. “The things that happen to Zubi in the book actually happened to me in real life. Not every single incident, but witnessing my mother and my older sister– women I really aspire to be like– ask if their outfit made them look fat, or worry and fret over their bellies, that was real life for me, so I had to include that for Zubi as the first incident that happens in the book,” she shares.
“What’s really special is that at the end, there is a conversation that happens between the parents and the older sister and Zubi, and that is the conversation I wish I had growing up with my loved ones. It’s the closure I needed, it’s the message I needed to hear. The most courageous thing to do is to choose confidence in a world that is constantly trying to make you insecure. When I think about this book, I think of younger me, and I think about the future Zubis out there that just need a little reminder to find out what makes them beautifully them.”
Zubi’s classmate, Alix, uses they/them pronouns—a choice Nabela made to make Beautifully Me inclusive for more kids who might not see themselves reflected in children’s literature.
“I think there are Alixes out there who may not feel safe, and may not have the space or opportunity to share themselves. I wanted to give the people who need to see an Alix the chance to do that. I just want to help people feel free and feel celebrated, and if I can do that, then for me, that’s a job well done,” Nabela says proudly.
Nabela has high hopes for the future of Beautifully Me—and for Zubi!
“I really want people to take away from this book the importance of having conversation about self-love, and how your words about yourself impact the growing, curious minds around you,” Nabela explains. “Loving yourself can be the most powerful tool you can equip a child because it encourages them to love themself. I hope this book becomes a conversation starter, I hope that people fall in love with Zubi and her story, and I hope that the Bengali culture can be celebrated in a way that I really haven’t seen before. I’m thankful for this opportunity and I hope it’s the first of many for Zubi.”
Zubi isn’t the only little girl Nabela Noor has brought to life this year.
Nabela and her husband Seth are expecting their first child, a daughter, in 2022.
“I suffered [a pregnancy loss] in June, and that was a pregnancy that took over five years, six years to bring to life and to see happen. Six years of infertility, and I was never even able to ovulate, so it was a really big deal when we were pregnant because it just really felt like such a miracle. It was such a miracle! It shattered my life when we lost the baby because I only got to know of the pregnancy for a little over a week. I felt all the joy in the world that I could have felt in that week, and then in the blink of an eye, I was mourning,” she recalls.
“Celebrating life and then mourning loss in such a short period of time, it was very damaging to my heart, my spirit. I wanted to share the loss because it was the most authentic thing for me. Little did I know that just two and a half weeks later, we would be blessed again with our rainbow pregnancy. I was in the thick of grieving, fully broken. I had no hope, no faith at that time. I was really down. It was life-changing for me to be blessed with this news in a time where my spirit was broken and I felt that God forgot about me. But instead, His plan was just way bigger and way better than I could have ever imagined,” Nabela shares, and her voice is full of joy and hope.
“It feels like dreams couldn’t even be this amazing.”
Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor, illustrated by Nabi H. Ali, is available now wherever books are sold.
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