For the first time ever, Playboy has featured a Muslim American in the pages of its magazine.
Noor Tagouri, a 22-year-old journalist for Newsy, graces the Playboy‘s latest issue in a special feature dedicated to the Renegades of 2016 — people who have “risked it all, even their lives, to do what they love, showing us what can be accomplished if we break the rules.”
It’s a story that comes almost a year after the popular men’s magazine announced it would no longer feature nude photos.
Described as “a badass activist with a passion for demanding change and asking the right questions, accompanied by beauty-ad-campaign looks,” the West Virginia native and first-generation Libyan American graduated college at the age of 20. Her goal is to become the first hijabi anchor on commercial U.S. television.
That is, if she can get people to trust her.
“The biggest challenge I face as a storyteller is the process of getting people to trust you enough to tell their stories,” Tagouri explained. “Our society has seemingly become so desensitized to violence, abuse, death, rape and trauma. I find that people who go through these traumatic experiences have a hard time trusting reporters.”
But Tagouri had found ways to earn her subject’s trust by embracing who she is.
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“To be honest, I think being a hijabi Muslim woman, helped me gain that trust,” she said. “I know what it’s like to have the narrative of our community be skewed and exploited in the media… I won’t do that to you… I know first-hand that once people are re-empowered, they realize their own story is powerful and they begin to share. It’s incredibly rewarding and can even help enlighten or save others.”
While Tagouri has experienced backlash — both in her career and for her Playboy piece — she says she pays it no attention. “It’s just negative energy and unhealthy,” she said of the “hate and criticism.”
As for the future, Tagouri’s will know she made it when “all girls realize they can do anything they want without having to sacrifice who they are as a person.”
“I may dress a little different — I’m a reporter who happens to wear a head scarf and I live in my hoodie — but being a story teller, motivational speaker, entrepreneur and unapologetically myself has opened so many doors for thousands of people,” she added.
She encouraged all people to do the same.
“Live your life as your truest self and encourage others to do the same! Support each other. We have to live for the 10,000 who have come before us, who have made it easier for us to get to where we are today, but also for the 10,000 coming after us, so we can continue to break barriers and glass ceilings and reclaim our power,” she said.
“Do good, stay fearless and remember that everything you want is just outside your comfort zone,” she concluded.