Style

My Beauty Uniform: Afzaa Motiwala

Afzaa Motiwala Beauty Uniform

Afzaa Motiwala is a psychology student and beauty junkie living in Long Island, New York. She has amazing style and a love of brightly colored hijabs (she confesses to owning around 200 scarves!). Ahead, she talks about wearing eyeliner in elementary school, her grandmother’s hair secret and the body “flaw” she now embraces…

Afzaa Motiwala Beauty Uniform

Your makeup is beautiful! How did you learn to do it so well?
I’ve learned almost everything I know by watching Youtube videos and Instagram tutorials. Usually, I come across one random video, then it will lead me to another, and another. I’m always mesmerized. I love Kaushal Beauty, Kathleen Lights and Sabina Hannan. I also get fashion tips from Dina Tokio and Saimastyleslike. Their style is modest yet trendy, they have great hijab tutorials and they’re hilarious. I’ve also gotten life advice from beauty bloggers, too. I was going through a hard time recently and I came across a video from one of the first beauty YouTubers I followed, JLovesMac1, called “Advice: Be Your Own Best Friend.” Her words have really stuck with me.

Afzaa Motiwala Beauty Uniform

Do you wear makeup every day?
Yes. If I don’t, I feel weird, like something is missing. I think it would be fine not to, but I really love the ritual. I start with Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, then I apply Maybelline Fit Me foundation all over my face and concealer where I need it with a damp beauty blender, which makes it go on smoothly and evenly. To avoid under eye creases, I pull my skin down under my eye and blend before I set everything with NYX HD Finishing powder. Next, I use Smashbox Photo Op Eyeshadow Trio in Filter for my eyebrows and my eyeshadow — it works perfectly for both areas. I actually use two mascaras every day — the Too Faced Better Than Sex to add length, and L’Oreal Waterproof Voluminous to make them dark and full. I’ll curl my lashes before and after applying mascara. I know this is a lot for most people, but I swear it makes my lashes 10 times longer!

Afzaa Motiwala Beauty Uniform

How do you change it up for special occasions?
I have a newfound obsession with adding glitter to my eyelids. I get it from Bulk Glitter, which sells cosmetic grade metallic glitter that’s approved for the skin. There are so many different colors, and one bitty jar is only a dollar.

Do you have a signature scent?
Beautiful Love by Estée Lauder. I’m a sucker for a rich jasmine scent. Burning incense in my home is also a big deal — not only does the air get more pleasant, it also relaxes the mind and body. My mom brings back rose incense every time she visits India.

Afzaa Motiwala Beauty Uniform

What is the purpose behind the hijab?
Muslim women may choose to wear a headscarf for many reasons — for example, some believe that it’s required by God; others view it as a symbol of modesty. For me, wearing a hijab has given me an identity as a Muslim American. My hijab speaks for me before I do; it tells people about my morals, beliefs and values. It gives me a sense of self-confidence and strength. My mother and younger sister also wear the hijab, except when we’re at home or with all women or male family members.

How does wearing one affect your beauty routine?
Some people, who follow the religion very strictly, believe that wearing makeup while wearing the hijab contradicts the purpose behind it. I wear makeup because I love the way it looks and the artistic process. I believe I can still observe my faith without something as simple as makeup affecting my beliefs.

Afzaa Motiwala Beauty Uniform

When did you start wearing a hijab?
I decided to start wearing one for myself when I was 17, but I’ve worn one in school since seventh grade. I went to an Islamic school where we had to wear a hijab and an abaya. It was the same long navy blue dress for a strict six years. My dad ran an Indian dress shop in Queens, New York, and I grew up loving bright and colorful things — so wearing the same solid color was terrible for me. We were supposed to wear blue sweatpants underneath, too, but my friends and I would rebel and dress in our own outfits and quickly show each other when the teachers weren’t looking. I remember my first day of college: I wore a bright mustard-colored shirt with a floral hijab — I was ecstatic!

What do you love about your religion?
Islam spreads compassion. For example, the Prophet Muhammad said, “He is not a true believer who eats his fill while his neighbor is hungry.” It teaches me that the color of my skin or status does not make me better than anyone else; everyone is equal in Islam. Islam keeps my life balanced, and teaches me to carry myself with respect. I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.

Afzaa Motiwala Beauty Uniform

As a Muslim woman, how do you feel about the current political climate?
As a Muslim female who wears a hijab, I have to be very careful. I’m always looking over my shoulder when I’m walking, and I listen to my music with just one headphone in. I have experienced people looking at me strangely, flipping me off or saying things under their breath. I try to disregard it, but it still shocks me. Since the election, I know a lot of people have experienced it more, but I’ve also seen people stand up for themselves and the rights of others. Through the protests and rallies, people of different races and religions are coming together. I feel hopeful. Just yesterday in class, a non-Muslim girl took me to one side and said, “I just want to let you know that you’re not alone; we’re here for you, and if you want anyone to talk to one, I’m here.” She was a complete stranger!

When did you first gets interested in beauty?
When I was growing up, every day before elementary school, my mother would apply kajal eyeliner to my eyes. This is a traditional Indian practice to protect from the “evil eye.” I got sent to the principal’s office numerous times because of it, and teachers would send home letters saying that I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup to school, but my mom continued to do it. I think this — along with seeing Indian films with actresses who wore heavy eyeliner and makeup — sparked my interest in beauty.

What else did the women in your family teach you about beauty?
Whenever we visited India, I was always amazed at my Nani’s glowing skin and gorgeous hair. She would sit me down and brush my hair, then rub a few drops of coconut oil through my hair and braid it before I fell asleep. I would rinse it out in the morning. Not only was it a great bonding session, it taught me the importance of taking care of my hair and using natural ingredients. I still do it once every two weeks. It leaves my hair feeling soft and smelling delicious.

Afzaa Motiwala Beauty Uniform

What else do you do to style and care for your hair?
Since you can’t see it under the hijab, I’ll tell you that I have long, thick, wavy hair. I use Head & Shoulders 2 in 1 Smooth & Silky every three to four days, then rinse with cold water to keep it shiny. I’ll straighten it if there’s a special occasion where my hair would be seen, like an all-girls party, and I make sure to use Tresemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray to avoid any damage.

Afzaa Motiwala Beauty Uniform

Do you have any beauty guilty pleasures?
I love going to the drugstore for new nail polish. If I come across a color I don’t have, it’s something I must get! Some of my favorite are Demure Vixen by Essie, Vamplified Miracle Gel by Sally Hansen, and Teddy Brown by Milani.

Do you have a “game-changing” beauty product?
Tea tree oil. It was my best friend when I had major breakouts in high school! After many failed attempts with acne-reducing products, my dad ordered me a bottle of tree tea oil from eBay, and it worked miracles. If I ever get a pimple now, I just dab a bit on and it’s gone.

Afzaa Motiwala Beauty Uniform

Is there any thing you you were insecure about growing up that you’ve learned to love?
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me I had a big forehead, I would be rich. I was always teased about it. I constantly covered it with bangs or pushed down my hijab so that my forehead was hidden. Most of my pictures are angled or cropped in a way that my forehead is almost out of sight. But I have grown to accept it and see it as something that makes me different. If you can’t change it, embrace it, right?

What’s the most drastic thing you’ve ever done with your overall look?
Most of my life, I’ve had very brown hair that goes down below my waist — same with my mom and grandmother. In high school, before I wore my hijab all the time, I wanted to be different, so I chopped it into a bob and dyed it black with box dye from CVS. I loved it; my mom did not! Recently, I also got a nose piercing, which brings out a new type of attitude that I love.

Afzaa Motiwala Beauty Uniform

Do you have any rituals that help you feel great?
Whenever I feel down or just need a boost, I love to apply henna. It relaxes my mind. Growing up, before weddings or Eid (the Islamic holiday), the ladies in my family would get together, and I’d apply henna on their hands. It started as a hobby, but my friends and family encouraged me to start my own business. I use henna from India that I mix with lemon juice and a few drops of tree tea oil. I love doing it, but it’s rough work — it can take up to eight hours! My clients are usually brides and their families. There’s a funny saying that the darker the henna comes out on the bride’s hand, the deeper the love her husband will have.

Thank you so much, Afzaa!

P.S. More women share their beauty uniforms, including Joanna’s mom and a professional ballerina.

(Photos courtesy of Afzaa Motiwala. Interview by Megan Cahn.)

  1. Zahra says...

    I have been a silent reader of COJ for many years and love how inspiring it is. But as a Muslim woman I sometimes felt COJ shyed away from sensitive issues, which is understanable as it isn’t a political blog. But after today I have no more complaints. I loved this post and enjoy other posts esp the ones about parenting in different cultures. Thank you COJ.
    As for those who wanted to know if they offered words of support to hijabi women, whether that would be approroiate. As others have already said, it would be very welcomed and touching. Nothing makes me happier than when others see me without the stereotypes and treat me as any other human (who just covers her hair in brightly coloured scarves) being.
    The only way forward is for us to learn about each other and live and let live regardless of skin, nationality, gender, relgious beliefs :)

  2. Kadija says...

    Gorgeous!!!

  3. Love! ❤

  4. Sarah W says...

    I love everything about this post. And the double mascara routine blew my mind – challenge accepted!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha same here!!

  5. Jehanara says...

    As a Muslim navigating the current toxic climate, it warmed my heart and lifted my soul to see a Muslim American featured on your page. It is time we all learned about each other in order to realize how little we differ from each other. Muslims do not need to be dehumanized due to the acts of a few deranged individuals and entities and hateful divisive rhetoric will solve nothing. Thank you for giving this amazing young woman a platform.
    Sending warm hugs your way.

  6. Joanna, this post makes me so so so so happy. Thank you for being a leading light, and for shining that light on the beautiful, important differences that make us all human. xo

  7. I loved this article!! Thank you for sharing :)

  8. Amirah says...

    I’ve been a loyal reader of this blog for years and this is a prime example of why I love it. Thank you so much for giving a platform for minorities and diverse communities. I’ve always enjoyed the Beauty Uniform, Parenting around the World, and Home Tours- particularly because they covered and provided snippets into the lives of such a wide spectrum of individuals. As a Muslim woman myself, its not often that I see media outlets actually hand the mic to Muslims (and other marginalized communities), instead of just trying to speak for them or about them. This is such a challenging time for us all here in the US, and its been so heartwarming seeing how a lot of people (including this lovely blog) are trying make changes to be more inclusive! Thank you!

  9. Thank you for sharing your story, Afzaa. And thanks Jo for giving her a platform to do so.

  10. Tamara says...

    I have never commented in a decade of reading your blog, Joanna, but wanted to do so today to thank you for posting this profile of such a beautiful woman. Ms. Motiwala’s comments about the current political climate remind me of something deeply reassuring a Muslim friend told me the other day: Islam teaches that even if the day of judgment has arrived, you should still plant a tree if you are holding a sapling in your hand. I’m not personally very spiritual, but I was so moved by that idea. Anyway, thanks for making this blog such a loving place the last few months. It means a lot to me and so many women I know that would never comment.

  11. Elizabeth says...

    I love this post! Thanks so much for featuring diversity on this blog.

  12. Maria says...

    Love. Thank you so much for this.

  13. Erin says...

    Love this so much. Thank you for sharing!!

  14. Annie says...

    Fave beauty uniform so far. No question. And I like ’em all!

  15. Heather says...

    Such beauty and strength. This is why I love this blog. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Carolyn Valentine says...

    I L0VED reading this! So important right now to understand different faiths. I understand the hijab much better now and it also reaffirmed my understanding of Islam. She is a beautiful young woman in all meanings of the word.

  17. Caitlin says...

    I loved hearing her reasons for wearing a hijab, because I always secretly wondered if it was still a minor form of suppression . . . but now it all makes much more sense :)

  18. Nazeefah says...

    Thank you so much for this Megan and Jo! As a hijab-wearing Muslim woman (albeit in South Africa!) it feels so good to be represented like this!

  19. SN says...

    Love this :)

  20. She’s a great feature and gives a different perspective. Hijabi bloggers and instagrammers are gaining such popularity with good reason. but I do wonder why in wearing religious clothing, does someone need to tell or justify their values and morals before they’ve even spoken? I find that a strange way to live

    • Winter Blue says...

      I think we all do this in our different cultures – it just might not be as apparent to you what you do in this vein because it is your own culture and you are used to it. For example, in Western culture, we have rules about modesty that most of us follow to project that we fit into the values/morals of society. Artists and pop stars often violate these rules for shock value – think of outfits worn in certain settings that you yourself would never where. Why not? Because, as Afzaa states, it would not project the type of values/morals you want to project. She is just following the norms of a different culture than you are, that’s the only difference.

    • Winter blue, I am from a similar culture to her. I know you don’t know that but I’ll clarify that I take the western freedom to question cultural practices even if it’s my own

  21. THANK YOU. I see you. I see you trying to amplify the voices that need to be heard. Thank you for being transparent and intentional. Thank you for leading with kindness, optimism, and inclusivity. Your blog is what “going high” is all about!

    • Sophia says...

      Yes to this a million times! Thanks so much COJ team! This totally brightened my week. :)

  22. Beautiful. One of my favorites so far. Thank you for always offering your readers fresh, diverse perspectives. I look forward to these posts all week, they brighten up the day so much :)

  23. Laura says...

    As an American who lived in a Muslim country I love this interview! She is so beautiful and it truly shows people who have never met someone from the Muslim religion that people who follow Islam are ‘just lIke us’. Bravo Joanna. Please continue to promote diversity and beautiful, strong women.

  24. Em says...

    My favorite beauty post. Thank you! She’s so gorgeous and I love her style. Very very glad to see a Muslim woman featured (would love more too).

  25. Rume says...

    This made my day. Hands down favorite site, always. Thank you <3

  26. Tami says...

    The first thing that struck me when I saw her picture is how stunningly beautiful she is.
    Not that she is Muslim and not that she is wearing a hijab.
    She is a smart, beautiful, interesting and confident woman.
    Just like many of us.
    p.s. Joanna – I have left other bloggers in the dust recently b/c I’ve grown tired of seeing their show offy lifestyles with little substance.
    I can no longer admire young women showing me how to achieve perfectly beached waved hair while deciding which shiny pink lipgloss and Louis Vuitton bag to wear.
    So, thank you (to you and your team) for giving me a blog to admire.
    xo

    • G says...

      Seconding this sentiment!

    • Couldn’t agree more!!

    • Christy says...

      Amen!!

  27. Tanith says...

    So wonderful! Thank you for sharing! <3

  28. ANNAK says...

    It is posts like this that make this blog extraordinary. Bravo to The Team at CoJ. <3

  29. The beauty uniform posts don’t generally interest me very much, but I very much enjoyed this one. Beautiful and interesting. Maybe I haven’t read down enough in these beauty posts – I will pay attention from now on! Love!

  30. Christina says...

    She. Is. STUNNING.

    I love that covering her hair makes no difference in her being unique and with her own colourful style!

  31. Erica says...

    Very well done! Very good beauty uniform. Love her voice and her sensibilities.

  32. Emmy says...

    LOVED this beauty uniform! Also, the thoughtful and supportive comments from COJ readers always give me hope :)

  33. Tawny says...

    Lovely! She’s beautiful, inside and out, and has great style!

    In this crazy world, your page has been one that I come to daily. It’s a big warm hug and comfortable place to take a break from the wild world we live in. Thank you for providing this and for posting on such a stunning lady!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we’re so glad to hear that, tawny :)

  34. Yes!! Love, love, love. Thanks for sharing!!

  35. Jill says...

    Beautiful!

  36. Alex says...

    COJ team – the material has been so on point lately! I know that we have discussed a lot of ways to be active in the political climate, and your team does this so easily by showcasing women like Afzaa! This beauty uniform made me so proud and happy!

  37. Lexie says...

    Thank you for featuring Afzaa! What a beautiful and strong woman!

  38. Meghan says...

    Beautiful!

  39. When a post like this is put out there, it is a reminder to all who see it that it is both cruel and ludicrous to label an entire group of people as “other”. It challenges the notion of making assumptions about Muslims. It is so, so important and I truly appreciate the CoJ team for making an honest and thoughtful contribution to our collective consciousness.

    • Jehanara says...

      Agree. 100%

  40. Liz says...

    Stunning!!

  41. Tali says...

    Such a beautiful woman, inside and out, with amazing style!

    • Liz says...

      Yes!!

  42. Jenn J. says...

    Thank you for sharing, Afzaa! You are a beautiful soul. I look forward to these pieces so much. Not only do I learn lovely new tips and tricks, but I learn so much about people different than myself. Thank you, Joanna and team, for giving us a window to diversity. So incredibly important today and always.

  43. Emma says...

    Thank you so much for this lovely, meaningful post about a woman who radiates beauty, inside and out.

  44. Thao says...

    What a beautiful, glamorous soul, inside and out! What I love so much about this piece is that it captures the richness of identity within a culture, the ways that women can agree and deviate on what beauty means to them – respectfully, gracefully. It made me feel grateful, once again, to be living in a nation where we can continue to learn so much about one another. Thanks, CoJ Team, for your awesome writing and your continued attention to things that matter, on a micro and macro level.

  45. Maija says...

    Loved this!

  46. Susan says...

    Where are those gorgeous mosaic stairs Afzaa is sitting on in one of the photos? What a beautiful background they make for such a gorgeous woman. Thanks to Afzaa for sharing her tips and insights!! Thx, too, to COJ on another job well done!

    • Susan says...

      Thank you!! I’ll be heading to Philly in the next few weeks, and will definitely check it out. :-)

    • Massiel says...

      They’re in Philadelphia! Magic gardens.

  47. Kelsey says...

    Gorgeous post!

  48. Lourdes says...

    I love this! Thank you for showing diversity on your blog.

  49. Kate says...

    Have you ever considered a male or trans beauty uniform? Would be interesting!

    • Megan Cahn says...

      Yes! We have a transgender woman coming up in the next few months.

    • Kate says...

      Awesome! Xx

  50. Allie says...

    Mad props, Jo. Afzaa, you gorgeous, girl.

  51. Michaela says...

    This is one of my favorite COJ Beauty Uniforms yet! Afzaa is gorgeous and seems so confident and put-together. What an amazing woman!

  52. Stephanie says...

    Absolutely love this. I’m echoing the sentiments others have already made here, but I love that Afzaa is not only a stunning Muslim woman, but someone who is really into makeup! This is the king of beautiful diversity we love to see as your readers. Thank you, CoJ!

  53. Stunning!

  54. Kate says...

    What beauty. Thank you for sharing this. I would love to find out more about coJ women or men from other cultures, religions or background. We need to stand together and educate ourselves about one another’s faiths, triumphs and struggles. That way we can help each other to fight the prejudice present all over the world that needs to end.

  55. You rock, Joanna! I love that you are promoting diversity on your blog and it really does keep me coming back daily. Keep at it!

  56. Cara says...

    Love this piece. She is absolutely stunning and I love her tips about tea tree oil. She seems so comfortable in her own skin and her makeup is beautiful. Thanks for featuring this!

  57. Lucia says...

    Maybe this is finally a place I can honestly ask….? I don’t know a lot about Islam, but I notice the men don’t wear special clothing, just the women, why is that? I’m also wondering about the way the women are treated in that religion in general, is it true husband’s are allowed to beat or even kill their wife if she has an affair? I’d love to hear a Muslim woman explain about these things and how she feels about it.

    • M says...

      I would suggest if you genuinely want to know, you do some research. There is plenty of information on islam out there, and speaking as someone who is not muslim, people of that faith have enough to contend with in this cultural climate without having to impart education that is readily available. I’ve included some links to get you started, but please keep in mind that (as with almost all religions) the words you read are the interpretation of religious guidance, not necessarily the guidance itself. Happy reading!

      http://www.mwnuk.co.uk/go_files/resources/MWNU%20Marriage_Divorce%20Report_WEB2.pdf
      http://www.newmuslimguide.com/en/your-dress-code/108

    • Ashley says...

      That has to do with local culture, not religion (even if they use religion as an excuse). Islam is as diverse in practice and attitudes as Christianity is. I have a devout Muslim friend from Afghanistan where the women in her family choose not to cover their hair and choose to maintain modesty in other ways. You will find that most Muslims fall into the much more moderate category that Afzaa appears to be part of.

    • Lula says...

      The word ‘hijab’ has come to mean specifically the head covering for women in English, although it has a much more general meaning in Islam of modesty for both men and women. Muslim men do wear special clothing – the difference is to do with the parts that are thought of as ‘arwah’ – for men this is generally between the waist and the knee. For women, the head as seen as a ‘private’ part (this is blunt definition) and thus is often covered by a hijab. The Qur’an is, like any religious book, open to interpretation.

      I hope your questions were asked from a place of genuine curiosity, and I agree with the previous eloquent reply with suggested reading. Do some research before asking such questions.

    • Cazmina says...

      Regarding your question about domestic violence and honour killings, while I’m not a muslim, I would say that these things are not just about religion, it is cultural. Yes, when you look at the ranking of countries for gender equality, most of the worst performers are muslim majority countries (http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2015/rankings/).
      However, Russia, a majority Orthodox Christian country, just moved to decriminalize some forms of domestic violence. (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38595993)
      While India, a majority Hindu country, still has a problem with honour killings. (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/12/india-sees-huge-spike-honour-killings-161207153333597.html)
      And in the USA, a majority Christian country, 1 in 3 women have been the victim of domestic violence. (http://ncadv.org/learn-more/statistics)

      As M suggested, there are lots of resources out there if you’d like to read more on this topic.
      I hope my reply has been helpful :)

    • Jeanne says...

      Lucia: I think it’s important that you are openly wondering about what you’re hearing. Hateful or fearful people and the media like to take the most extreme and radical opinions and color vast groups of people with the same paintbrush. Obviously that’s unfair. You can apply the misinformation to one’s own culture, country and religion. Some examples I’ve heard over the years are “Mormans believe in polygamy and the women are completely subservient to men. I could never be Roman Catholic; all the priests are child molesters.” In my part of the country, there is a large social change of women not giving up their maiden names upon marriage. Their position is that they shouldn’t be forced to give up their entire life identity just because they’re marrying. But that’s not common in the Midwest or South. Would women living in those parts of the country feel that they are being controlled? I don’t think so. They would say it’s tradition. So I’m glad you’re thinking outside the box and questioning these type of statements. Keep wondering :)

    • Mariela says...

      This isn’t an issue with Islam – this is an issue with religion (belief) being written into law (or just accepted as cultural practices). For example, Christianity has many rules regarding not having sex before marriage, not committing adultery, etc. and when these beliefs WERE written into law, they historically were enforced MOST against women. And violently so.
      The important thing to remember is that most societies oppress women, and generally our planet suffers from systemic sexism – so when religious views (beliefs) are enforced on the population, it will work to control women first, and men second, if at all.

      All of this means that we need to work even harder for religious freedom – everyone should be able to practice or believe in whatever religion they choose, or no religion without consequence. However, no one should be able to try to impose their religious views on others – which is what the current president is trying to do from the Muslim ban, to decreasing access to women’s health services.

  58. BW says...

    Tres stylish! Love love love.

  59. maria says...

    Thank you Cup of Jo for being so gracefully thoughtful. Peace & love ;)

  60. Karen says...

    Afzaa–you brought me to tears.
    Joanna–thank you for your intention.
    What do you love about your religion?
    Islam spreads compassion. For example, the Prophet Muhammad said, “He is not a true believer who eats his fill while his neighbor is hungry.” It teaches me that the color of my skin or status does not make me better than anyone else; everyone is equal in Islam. Islam keeps my life balanced, and teaches me to carry myself with respect. I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.

    IT IS THIS–it is these moments, it is these moments of realizing the humanity and capacity for engagement and love of others that helps lessen the poison of prejudice.

    More and more and again and again.

  61. barb says...

    Thank you for this…it is great to see other cultures…

  62. marsha says...

    you know why this post is great – its about a girl, a girly girl that love makeup and dressing up and looking fabulous! She does it for herself. ALso its nice you featured someone glamorous and not hippy-dippy/hipster…

    Quote:
    I wear makeup because I love the way it looks and the artistic process. I believe I can still observe my faith without something as simple as makeup affecting my beliefs.

    • Giuls says...

      That’s what I thought too! She is such a girly girl… just like me! Thank you for this post

  63. trisha says...

    This is why I am a fan of cupofjo. Thank you much.

  64. Lauren E. says...

    I love how this series weaves together physical beauty with tradition and style and ritual and family. And now religion. Thank you for such thoughtful content.

  65. I rarely ever comment but had to say a huge THANK YOU for posting such a wonderful beauty uniform. Afzaa is absolutely stunning and the message Cup of Jo sends when posting diverse women is one that is not lost on us. Continue to be a light in this world, we all appreciate it.

  66. Cup of Jo is consistently the kind of media that I want and need – I learn, I enjoy, I am inspired, my mind is opened, it is fantastic. Well done to all the team and what a stunning beauty uniform! I may just have to try that mascara tip…

  67. Di says...

    Thank you CoJ team for this beautiful feature. In this environment of increasing intolerance we’re in, these features (though they may seem insignificant in the larger discourse) actually carry that much more weight. We have to challenge each other to expand our perceptions and stereotypes. Bravo Afzaa for being so unapologetically beautiful- gorgeous inside and out.

  68. Nicky says...

    Awwwww Long Island represent! She looks so glamorous and confident! I love her makeup but I also love her overall style. So glad she is proud of who she is. <3

  69. cca says...

    Beautiful person, this was so interesting. how long does the henna last on the body?

  70. Sara says...

    While I appreciate COJ’s efforts in this post, and think a lot of it was well done, I think some very important questions were missed by Megan as someone who isn’t Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, etc. As a Muslim women, I find this to be a recurring issue in the journalism world, not just COJ, and find it very sad. I’m curious if any Muslim or hijabi women were consulted on the final drafts to hear their thoughts? But at least its a start, I guess.

    • Di says...

      I found the tone incredibly respectful. Afzaa is representing her viewpoint, not speaking for an entire religion.

    • Sara says...

      I didn’t say disrespectful, but certain elements that Muslim women would like to hear about and big beauty elements that Muslim women think about often i.e. How does she tie her hijab? Does she use different styles for different occasions? What are her layering tricks for dresses or clothes that need to be more covered?

    • Sarah Kang says...

      I hear your thoughts, Sara. But having another Muslim woman consult on the final draft of an interview WITH a Muslim woman, who is perfectly capable of explaining her own story, would seem disrespectful to me. I think this post was beautifully done and had good questions. If the COJ team was writing a book about her, they would have asked more, but the questions posed here were thoughtful and smart.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for the feedback, sara!

    • Sara says...

      Fair point- but the interviewer is the medium through which the story is told. Afzaa does not control how her story is edited. A third eye is not uncommon when reporting a story. I am not debunking the whole interview- like I said, I think a lot of it was great and the effort is awesome. All I am saying is that, as a Muslim woman, I would have loved to hear more about beauty tricks for women who wear hijab because there are few mainstream sources which do so. I am not trying to be negative, but just giving feedback. Maybe a Muslim women would have told Megan, ‘Would you mind following up asking how she ties her hijab or hides the pins in the scarf?’

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great points, sara, thank you! it’s very helpful to hear your perspective, and we will keep this front of mind moving forward.

    • Sara says...

      And you’re welcome, Joanna! Love your blog. :)

    • Kelly says...

      Hi Sara! I’m not Muslim and I’d love to know what more you think should have been included here. I felt like there were many of Afzaa’s answers where I would have loved to know more, personally, because she seems like such a cool person!

    • Megan Cahn says...

      Hi Sara, thanks for your input! I can ask her, sure! She also mentions two Youtubers who give great hijab tutorials in the first question.

    • Sara says...

      Sara, I totally hear you!! I was so pumped to see a fellow muhajiba in this post and I think Megan did a good job- but I wish they had outsourced the interview to another Muslim woman. It would have been so powerful to see two Muslim women discussing beauty, and asking questions that only another Muslim woman would think to ask!! Feeling stylish is not always easy and I’m always on the hunt for more tips.

    • Sharihan says...

      Sara, I totally hear you!! I was so pumped to see a fellow muhajiba in this post and I think Megan did a good job- but I wish they had outsourced the interview to another Muslim woman. It would have been so powerful to see two Muslim women discussing beauty, and asking questions that only another Muslim woman would think to ask!! Feeling stylish is not always easy and I’m always on the hunt for more tips.

  71. Carrie says...

    love love love

  72. Sarah says...

    Beautiful post – even though it should not be necessary, thank you.

  73. Michelle A. says...

    Yes! Loved your comment Jessica.

  74. Emily says...

    My favorite beauty uniform yet! Thank you for sharing this – such a beautiful woman, inside and out! Any chance we could find out where that blue floral maxi dress is from? (its in the 3rd pic from the bottom)

    • Megan Cahn says...

      Hi Emily, Afzaa’s aunt made her the dress :)

    • Nazeefah says...

      Emily the Annah Hariri website has very similar dresses :)

  75. Michelle A. says...

    I love her style!!! What a beauty, inside and out. Her hijab only heightens her incredible face, she is stunning! I would love to know how she gathers and wears her hijab, I noticed it tied a few different ways in the photos. It’s so beautiful.

  76. Rachel says...

    Afzaa is just gorgeous, inside and out!

  77. It’s so refreshing to read a Beauty Uniform where the subject actually cops to loving makeup! I mean, I’m all for looking natural and embracing your beauty, but it’s also really fun to read about someone who buys her eye shadow from Bulk Glitter. She doesn’t mess around!

    I also loved the part about her outfit on her first day of college. As a fellow color-lover my first school that I attended that didn’t require a uniform was such a relief. I felt so free!!! I also weirdly felt like I fit in better than I ever had when I was dressed like everyone else.

  78. Alexandra says...

    wonderful post – thank you!

  79. Simply beautiful. Thank you for featuring her. I think the west needs to see more people like her. If you don’t live in a large city, your perception of Muslim women is probably an oppressed woman draped head to toe in black. As Afzaa shows, there is so much more to it than that.

  80. Wow. Stunningly beautiful.

  81. ES says...

    This was so fascinating. Thank you for sharing her story.

  82. Zoe says...

    I have also been teased about my big forehead, but I’ve come to think that it makes me look like a doll, which isn’t a bad thing :) Big foreheads are beautiful!

    • Christy says...

      As someone with a “small” forehead the grass is always greener! I can’t wear bangs well so I always longed for a bigger forehead. :)

  83. Love, love, love!! I also really love her mix of spendy and inexpensive beauty buys/tips. Afzaa is seriously gorgeous.

  84. What a stunning woman. Loved her insights. Thank you for sharing! Bravo.

  85. Brooke says...

    Best beauty uniform yet. CupofJo team – Thank you for showcasing all of the different kinds of beautiful out there, regardless or race, nationality, sexual orientation, etc etc. Afzaa – thank you for your willingness to share. I stand with you.

  86. Salma says...

    I rarely post on here but wanted to thank the CoJ team for featuring a Muslim woman, especially in today’s political climate. I really appreciate your dedication to diversity and inclusion, and reading all the positive comments is the icing on the cake. Well done! It really means so much to many of us…

  87. sara says...

    She is absolutely stunning!!!

  88. Michelle says...

    Great job as usual! Thank you for always featuring diversity on the blog. I lived in Istanbul, Turkey for many years and many of the women who wore hijabs there also wore stylish clothes and makeup. I think Americans have a stereotype of what Muslim women should look like that has no basis in reality, and posts like this help to combat it.

  89. Flo says...

    A wonderful post. Thank you for this uplifting profile of a beautiful woman, inside and out.

  90. Sharon says...

    YAAAAAASSSS to this!!!!! Gorgeous girl and I love a dose of cultural education this brings! And y’all, women from the center of our civilization (Central Asia/Middle Eastern) are beautiful, no? I believe this is how Helen of Troy looked, no offense to Diane Kruger. :)

    • Laura says...

      Agreed! As an owner of pasty white skin and wispy eyebrows, I admire women with richer skin tones and stronger features. I’ve always found Indian women to be especially beautiful and Afzaa and her family are no exception!

  91. Yas Joanna and team. Thank you for representing all humans in these beauty posts! I’ve actually found a few new favorite items from these routines (oh, hey rms living luminizer), but I’m mostly thankful that we get to see a fuller representation of female beauty. I am a half Anglo-German, half Pakistani 1st gen. daughter of an immigrant, and it means a lot that you are writing with an inter-sectional feminist perspective.

    xo

  92. Emily M. says...

    Afzaa strikes me as being quite calm. Her quiet confidence somehow feels tangible. I enjoyed this piece so thoroughly!

    xo

  93. Carrie says...

    Wow she is crazy beautiful. Cool beauty uniform, she’s got great style!

  94. Julie says...

    Such a beautiful post. “Islam spreads compassion”, I teared up when I read that. So important for all of us to remember to spread compassion these days. Thank you.

  95. Carol says...

    Thank you for this!

  96. Judy says...

    There’s something so beautiful in the Islamic and African-American cultures about women doing each other’s hair: aunties, sisters, mothers, generations gathering together and learning about life from each other. (It kind of reminds me of The Red Tent book!) I don’t think we have that in the white culture much and we are less rich for the loss.

    • Catie says...

      Hi Judy. I don’t think that you meant badly by this, but as a white woman, you should mindful of a) lumping together all “Islamic” and “African American” culture (both groups have a variety of cultures that are as varied and diverse as any other) and b) making sure that you don’t cross the line into exotifying or “othering” another culture. You’re creating an idealized, exotic image of a perceived ritual that you actually do not know much about.

      Just something to keep in mind.

    • Judy, the red tent is neither Islamic or African American culture

  97. VP says...

    YES. Cup Of Jo, I love you even more.

  98. I love her style!!!

  99. Katrina says...

    I absolutely love this!! Thank you!

  100. f says...

    Great interview and she’s beautiful! Not only for her looks and style, but for her confidence in being a Muslim American.

  101. Paola says...

    Swooning – this girl is gorgeous inside and out.

  102. This is by far my favorite beauty uniform! Well done for bringing light and love to various cultures and races around the world x

  103. Kelly says...

    I love this- Afzaa comes across as so open and warm – the kind of person you want as a close girlfriend. And her makeup is flawless! I only use lipstick, as I don’t have the patience for a full face of makeup, but respect the artistry here…

  104. Afzaa radiates such peace and beauty!

    Bravo, Jo and team, for giving voice to this faith that is so often misunderstood.

  105. Megan says...

    This is one of my favorite Beauty Routines, and maybe posts ever on Cup of Jo! I love the diversity and the fact that instead of shying away from asking questions, this article brings information, understanding, and genuine caring to the situation. Afzaa you are stunning and I love what you have to say about your religion and how it makes you who you are. So inspiring!

  106. Emily says...

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  107. This was so lovely! If you are ever looking for another college student for a beauty uniform, just let me know :) !

  108. LP says...

    Ugh, I’m dying to know where she got the plaid top in the first photo and the long, flowered dresses! What awesome style.

    • Anamaria says...

      Me too! The plaid top is so great.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we will ask! :)

    • Nazeefah says...

      There are similar long flowered dresses on the Annah Hariri website :)

  109. And once again this is the best place on the internet!!! Thank you for featuring a gorgeous woman who wears the hijab in a way that normalizes her and underscores the fact that we really are all so similar at heart–even with things as simple as buying yet another bottle of nail polish!! Bravo, COJ team!

  110. Gabrielle says...

    Thank you so much for this! I absolutely loved reading it. <3

  111. I love this! Thank you, COJ team, for this wonderful interview and for featuring such a beautiful woman, inside and out! It’s great to see the representation of a Muslim woman in your Beauty Uniform series. Loved her makeup tips, too! Definitely feeling inspired. It’s cool to see someone really embrace her love of makeup like that (even if that’s not an “on-trend” thing to do!).

  112. Sarah says...

    Brilliant & bravo!

    • Lena says...

      My thoughts exactly!

  113. DK says...

    I LOVE this classy lady! She is so beautiful and elegant and poised. Thank you for featuring her.

  114. Geny says...

    Beautiful woman and super interesting post! That cape she is wearing in the picture with the bird is lovely.

  115. Rebecca says...

    Thank you so much for featuring a diverse group of women for these interviews!

  116. She is seriously so beautiful- and talented with makeup!

    I also have a large forehead- my first boyfriend told me it was a “five head”!!

    Xo, Brittany

  117. Laura says...

    LOVED hearing from a Muslim woman as well as someone who wears a full face of makeup every day like I do!!

  118. emanuella says...

    1. Never in a million years would I have guessed that she was insecure about her forehead or that other people teased her about her forehead. What a great reminder that something you stress about may not even be noticeable to someone else.

    2. I would’ve loved to hear her thoughts on people’s misconceptions about Islam or about radical Islamists in general

    3. The picture of her in front of the floral projection is deep and beautiful.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “What a great reminder that something you stress about may not even be noticeable to someone else.” = so, so true!

    • It’s a beauty post. If you want to hear about more serious matters then it can be featured on a separate post. All of the talk of religion derailed the point of the post

  119. Becca says...

    Gorgeous!
    Gorgeous!
    Gorgeous!

  120. Cynthia says...

    She’s so beautiful! Lovely post.

  121. Oh my goodness, this is SO lovely—both Afzaa herself, and her being featured here. XO

  122. Savala says...

    I’m so pleased that you featured a Muslim woman in this column! She’d certainly be interesting and lovely if she weren’t Muslim; but many of the Muslim students I work with (I work at a University) are telling me lately that they feel “erased” — as if they don’t exist as human beings but merely as “boogie men” in people’s imagination. One academic term for this feeling and phenomenon of erasure is “symbolic annihilation,” and blogs definitely count. I’m so happy that Cup of Jo is taking a progressive, realistic, and joyful approach to beauty and diversity, and to our shared humanity. Bravo!

    • Thank you for sharing the term “symbolic annihilation.” I love having a name for something I’m feeling but have trouble describing. I live in the Texas and when I first learned the term “benevolent sexism” I was so happy to have a way to frame what I experienced every day!

  123. Kim J says...

    Thank you!!!
    We all need to stand up for one another to resist this hatred.
    Compassion will sustain us.

  124. her eyelashes are bananas

  125. Lee says...

    wonderful post! she is so lovely!

  126. Jeannie says...

    Yay, more diverse American women! She has knockout style.

  127. denese says...

    ok, can Vogue please take note at what Diversity looks like? Your beauty series nails it. Every. Single. Time.
    props ladies.

    • Geny says...

      Ha! You’re right, so much better :-)

    • Molly says...

      EXACTLY!! From your lips to Anna Wintour’s ears, please & thank you!

    • Katie says...

      Yes, yes, yes!

  128. Celeste says...

    Thank you for sharing, Afzaa! That tea tree oil must actually work because you have BEAUTIFUL skin. Your style is so bright and feminine, which is completely opposite of mine but you have me rethinking it a little. <3

  129. Allison says...

    Thank you Afzaa for being willing to share with us!

  130. Emily H says...

    Thanks so much for sharing a little bit about your routine and life, Afzaa! You’re simply stunning!

  131. Emily says...

    I love this! Afzaa’s style is awesome. I’m not Muslim, but I’m a big fan of hijab–I think they’re beautiful! Thank you for sharing, Afzaa :)

    • Katie says...

      Me too! I’ve always thought there was something so elegant and old-Hollywood about a beautiful hijab.

  132. Oh my goodness, this is so lovely. What a gorgeous woman– inside and out.
    (Also, this is making me want a beauty blender. ha. And thanks for the mascara tip– I’m always on the look out for one that doesn’t smudge…)

  133. Maria says...

    She’s GORGEOUS!! Per usual, you COJ guys knocked it out of the park. Love this blog and what it stands for. We are all in this together.

  134. Varsha says...

    Great feature, Cup of Jo. Your blog is always great…. but this one is particularly outstanding, and I hope to see more like this.

  135. She’s lovely. I know she is Indian, but because of Islam this takes me back to growing up in Jordan and Dubai, Dearborn, MI in the US, and times when I did henna for my Arab friends or at the Arab American Friendship Festival in Dearborn as a teenager. The Emirati ladies in Dubai could sure give a glamorous beauty uniform too, haha.

  136. Teree says...

    I love this feature so much. She seems like a woman who knows herself. And she is so very beautiful.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “a woman who knows herself” = i love that.

  137. Amarra says...

    Beautiful!

  138. Jennifer says...

    Beautiful inside and out! I love how open and real she is, and all while looking GORGEOUS

  139. Sarah Kang says...

    What a beautiful, smart woman! Three cheers for celebrating diversity, talking about religion and… drugstore makeup. :)

  140. Anne says...

    Ugh Afzaa is SO lovely! I don’t think much about taking care of my hair – I do have some coconut oil at home though, maybe I should give it a try.

    There’s a woman who works in my building who wears a hijab, and I’ve considered stopping her to tell her that I stand with her, but I worry about seeming presumptuous. I don’t want her to feel singled out or spotlighted. I’m glad it was a welcome gesture to Afzaa – do other Muslim readers feel the same way, or would it be embarrassing?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great question! i’d love to hear from other muslim women about this, too xoxoxo

    • Kelley says...

      I’d love some input on this question as well, thanks for asking.

    • Hayley says...

      I’ve felt the same way and would also love to know. Thanks for asking, Anne, and for highlighting the question, Joanna!

    • Laura says...

      There are a number of Muslim families in my building, too. I make it a point to small and say hello, wave to their children, etc. I hope it comes across as letting them know I support them without being over the top. Sometimes I think small gestures are ok. But that’s just my take…..

    • Alina says...

      DO IT. BE PRESUMPTUOUS! I’m a 31 year old Muslim living in California, and have been cushioned by open minded neighbors and residents alike. But with DJT recent’s election and legitimately rising Islamophobia, we are all scared shitless. My friends always tell me about the kind, supportive comments they get and how it makes their day. If I got one, it would make my day. It would mean so much for us. The fact that you want to do it is so touching, thank you for asking. <3

    • Ayesha says...

      As a Muslim woman who covers her hair, I have been brought near to tears by the kindness of strangers who smile at me while others are scowling, make eye contact while others look away in disgust and who’ve told me that I’m not alone while I’m in a subway car full of people feeling vulnerable. Please reach out, it makes a difference.

    • As a Muslim woman, I would definitely see it as a welcoming and compassionate gesture! You can never recieve too many gestures of support, especially in a time like today when there is so much division in the country and hostility and intolerance towards minorities. Any gesture of kindness is a blessing and a refreshing light of hope reminding us that we are not alone.
      After reading Joanna’s blog for years, seeing a young Muslim woman being featured for a Beauty Uniform brings such a big smile to my face. Especially as I was quite hurt to notice only silence after the recent muslim ban that was so devastating for so many of us by the Cup of Jo team when this blog is usually very vocal in celebrating diversity, tolerance, and inclusivity.

    • I wore hijab for 8 years and loved it when people made kind or supportive comments. I think it’s all about tone and energy. If you aren’t doing it in a condescending way but in a manner that shows you are being supportive, it is a beautiful gesture.

    • Anna says...

      Alina- I don’t know you, but I stand with you.

    • Caroline says...

      Anne, thanks for asking this question and thank you to all who responded! I have also worried about making people uncomfortable with well-intentioned words of support, and am now reassured that they are likely to be very welcome :)

    • Amirah says...

      As a Muslim woman myself, I would find that incredibly heartwarming. In the current political climate, a lot of times, what has kept me going and helped me reaffirm my faith in humanity and the general goodness of people, have been the random acts of kindness and warm words from strangers and friends/coworkers alike.

  141. KayN says...

    So excited to see this feature, and she is STUNNING. Afzaa, your skin absolutely glows!

  142. Nicole says...

    So beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

  143. She’s beautiful! Thank you for continuing to feature such diversity here.

  144. This is phenomenal. Thank you for profiling this beautiful young woman, and for showing Muslim faces on your blog!

    This is the best thing Cup of Jo has ever done. And in a beauty profile no less- bravo!

  145. Jessica says...

    Oh wow, Afzaa is beautiful, and a serious contender for a week of outfits! That floral maxi dress is gorgeous! I always love seeing a fellow make up lover in the Beauty Uniform posts.

    On a second note, I always appreciate that the CoJ writers ask serious questions alongside the beauty questions–it’s such a subtle reminder that beauty and style are always more than skin deep. And Afzaa responds to the questions about being Muslim American at this challenging time with such grace, dignity, and strength. Thanks to all of you for this post.

    • Alexandra H. says...

      Beautifully said, Jessica! I couldn’t agree more.

    • This, yes. One of the best series out there – great job, CoJ!

  146. Lana says...

    Wow. She’s a knockout!

  147. Ginette says...

    Simply stunning!

  148. Susan says...

    Yes! Thank you for featuring this lovely woman.