Tell me about yourself.
Swaleha: My name is Swaleha. It is Arabic and my family is originally from Pakistan. I was born in Saudi Arabia and moved a lot growing up because of my dad’s job. We moved to England, Turkey, then Toronto, now we are in Washington. It was crazy growing up, but moving around shaped the way I view people. Technology wasn't big growing up so I knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to keep in touch with my friends so when I am with them I value them and treat my friends like family.
I am a college student. I just graduated high school last June. I am studying to become a web designer. I work at a tutoring center teaching little kids how to read and write. I am also really into fashion. I am Muslim and it has always been difficult to find modest clothing. Recently, there has a been a huge rise in Muslim beauty bloggers and I am so grateful for that. I am glad that my younger sister who is 12 will have role models that look like her. That inspired me to start a modest clothing company for women who wear hijabs. My main goal is to keep it affordable. My family is very religious, but I made the personal choice to cover up. I started in the 4th grade and so many kids would make fun of me. I don’t think they meant to be malicious, but they would say things like “This is America. You don't have to wear that here.” I internalized their comments and would take my hijab off when I would get to school and put it back on when I got on the bus going back home. I didn’t want to hurt my family but I also wanted to protect my feelings.
What are your beauty struggles?
Swaleha: This question is huge for me because I just started wearing my hijab consistently last year. I struggle with being confident in myself and feeling like I belong when I wear my hijab in public. My sisters are younger than me but more confident because they learned from what I went through.
Do you think beauty is political for people of color?
Swaleha: It definitely is– considering our current political climate. I have lived in my neighborhood for 10 years and it has alway been very safe but recently I have been harassed in public spaces. When I leave the house, I am not aware of whether the way I look is politically correct–I’m just trying to look cute [laughs]. I think it’s crazy that my existent as a Muslim woman offends people's political views.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Swaleha: My mom always tells me “Whatever happens, happens. Your life will take you in so many directions but you have to have core values and beliefs and never lose sight of those values no matter what happens.”
What makes you feel unstoppable?
Swaleha: Last week, I wasn't feeling that great and I started listening to a lot Punjabi music and it made me feel so much better and closer to my culture.
What is your self-care routine?
Swaleha: Personally, I love taking off all the makeup I’m wearing and doing it all over again. I read Into The Gloss “Top Shelf” interviews and watch Pakistani dramas with my mom. When I am feeling down, I love to read the Quran and reflect on myself even if it’s for 5 minutes. I love listening to Punjabi music like I said earlier. I have been listening to Dil Nai Lagda by Aman Hayer, Feroz Khan, & Vinni all week!
Keep up with Swaleha on her journey:
Beauty Instagram: @SwaleeStyle
Personal Instagram: @RoseEyed
Online Store: www.SwaleeStyle.com!