Moor than meets the eye
By Shaan Bajaj
Trigger warning: eating disorders
If you sit with my mother long enough, she will tell you about how I am an absolute pain in the neck when it comes to dressing up for a society event. Partly due to how inaccessible the beauty and fashion industry feels to me as a mid- to plus-size individual, alongside unrealistic beauty standards. Natasha Moor’s philosophy of beauty resonates with me and can change perspectives for the better. She says, “Beauty, as cheesy and cliché as it might sound, is about being a good human being. It is truly from within, and I do not mean eating clean, it is so much more! It is the person you are, and the energy you attract. It is about being a good person, because as soon as you realise someone is a genuine person, you find him or her 10 times hotter! For example, if a guy is really nice, you’re like, damn! He is so sexy!” [Laughs]
During her recent business trip to Bangkok, I met Natasha at Sip & Co., and she walked in wearing a beautiful shade of green and the brightest smile I had seen in while. It did not take long for us to get chatting away on everything, from her upbringing, to being a founder of her own cosmetics brand. During her chat with Masala, Natasha reveals the nitty gritty of how her young self struggled to believe she was beautiful, and how that insecurity has led her to the person she is now.
Natasha claims her childhood experiences made her stronger; she experienced a great amount of bullying around her body, skin, and ethnicity while she grew up in Hong Kong. At 17, she left Hong Kong to undertake a Bachelor’s in PR and Marketing at the London College of Fashion, before coming back to work at a boutique PR agency. There, at the age of 22, she found her calling for makeup and has never looked back.
What made you decide to become a makeup artist, instead of pursuing PR and marketing?
While working at the PR Company, I organised and attended all these events and I was doing my own makeup. People would ask, “Who did your make up?” and I would answer, “Me!” Slowly, I was approached by others to do their makeup. When I saw people’s reaction to my looks and how confident they felt, I realised it was my passion. I could never look in the mirror and think I looked beautiful, but maybe, with the help of my makeup, I could give others the confidence I never felt.
When did you start building a niche as a bridal makeup artist?
Almost instantly, brides approached me for my signature look – I soon became recognised globally for being the makeup artist that made them look like “the best version of themselves”. More than that, I think they liked the way they felt, and they recommended me, saying, “You need to call Natasha because she is going to be like your BFF!” At a certain point, I was flying to a different country every five days; it was crazy but also the most beautiful experience. I still do bridal makeup but I’m really busy because Natasha Moor Cosmetics has started to take off.
I am very grateful for the Sindhi society’s support when I started my career. It really kicked off because of word of mouth. Once one person liked what I did, it quickly spread like wildfire and soon I was one of the go-to trusted makeup artists for your big day!
What motivated you to start Natasha Moor Cosmetics?
What truly motivated me to start a brand was recognising a huge gap in the market. There were honestly no lip colours that suited my brides- no pinks, reds, nudes that worked well with the different skin tones I worked with. Nothing that was long lasting – as you know, Indian weddings are all-day events, so you need something you can trust! I used to mix and match a bunch of formulas to create a good colour match for each client- they loved it so much that they would call me a few months post wedding to ask me where they can get that shade.
That is when I decided to start my own line. It started with lipsticks and soon expanded to a line of essentials; a product range that embodies the “Natasha Moor woman” She is elegant, trustworthy, reliable, and confident. All our lip shade names are powerful affirmations. The idea I had was; lipstick is generally the last thing you put on your face, so I wanted to have people put their lippy on, say the shade name as an affirmation, and go about their day feeling powerful! My goal was always to have a product line that did Moor, a line that speaks to each customer’s soul.
Do you have any plans to bring your brand to Thailand?
I am currently working on launching in India, the Middle East, and the UK, but I hope to launch Natasha Moor Cosmetics in Thailand soon. Keep your eyes peeled for a pop-up in March or April.
The beauty industry can perpetuate unrealistic beauty standards, what are your thoughts about that?
I am a victim to media’s ideal beauty standards too; I wanted flawless skin. Despite practicing confidence and loving myself, I am one of the most insecure people I have ever met. One of the reasons I built Natasha Moor Cosmetics and became a makeup artist was to help myself feel that confidence too. Comparing yourself to others is the hardest thing to overcome, and I still struggle with that till today. I have never really come about and said this but the ideals of beauty actually led me to become anorexic and bulimic because I was overweight as a child. I struggle with this unrealistic expectation of how I should look.
When did your anorexia and bulimia begin? What impact has it had on you, and where are you now on your recovery journey?
I was bullied in high school because I was overweight, I had bad skin, and I was Indian. Additionally, aunties at events would insult me with backhanded comments such as, “You know what, you would be so pretty if you lost weight.” Bulimia started when I was very young. There were times where I would not eat for days. In London, I would work out every day and then eat one small piece of sashimi and that was it. It was ridiculous; I malnourished my body because I wanted to look hot for university. After completing a 12-week course with my health coach I was in a good place for a while and then I got carried away without the support of my coach. Having the guidance of my coach really helped me, but without her, I lost my way and became anorexic. I started fasting for three days at a time. As a result, I have suffered with gut issues, a slow metabolism, and increased cortisol levels.
I am in a much better place now, physically and mentally. I am currently working through not having any issues with eating food. My health coach is helping me eat during certain timings, and lowering my cortisol levels; because of her I am able to get back on track and figure out what is good for my body. The reason I am sharing this is because I think it can help a lot of people within the community, who may struggle with unrealistic beauty standards too.
Divorce is such a huge taboo within the South Asian community till date; some misguided people might even go so far to say a divorced woman is ‘damaged goods.’ How did you navigate your divorce, and do you have any advice for other woman who may be considering a divorce?
I’ve actually heard that about me, while I was going through my divorce. I was at a wedding at the time, people were gossiping, and someone told me how they overheard someone saying I was damaged goods. My heart sank as I walked into the room and everyone was staring at me. They were not admiring my clothes, jewellery, or make up; all they saw was a successful makeup artist who was here for the bride and is now damaged goods – what a shame. Many people were supportive, but others criticised me saying, “What are you doing? You are a woman, you shouldn’t be getting a divorce, and you should be looking after your husband.” I looked at everyone and had an anxiety attack; I ran straight back up to my room and cried.
I started dating him at 19 and I married him at the age of 25 and divorced at 27. I was in love but I did not know myself at the time. Ultimately, we were two people who did not have the same goals in life. We tried and it did not work out. One thing people said that bothered me was, “Just try having kids, it will help” and that’s not on – just no. People do not realise they need to fix themselves to find a partner that best balances them.
Although, I have noticed a huge change in our society, globally. Indians have become more united and supportive. The younger generation of women are willing to break out of their bubble because they are not scared anymore. My advice would be to trust your gut; it is always going to lead you in the right direction.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Running a business in general is a challenge. Trying to balance everything, especially my sleep, has been tough. Up until last month, I used to sleep three hours a day!
What has been your biggest accomplishment?
One of the biggest accomplishments was having an in-person event in Sephora Hong Kong and walking Lakme Fashion Week for a designer I love, Payal Singhal.
Three makeup tips that you would like to share:
- Less is Moor, don’t overdo your makeup.
- Do not use expired makeup and old brushes, always restock, especially your mascara. Hygiene is everything!
- Do not feel like you have to follow trends unless you want to. Keeping it simple and classic is chic.
Three entrepreneur tips that you would like to share
- Keep a circle of people who build you up.
- Don’t be scared to cut out negative energy.
- It is always going to be difficult, so look for people who can advise you.
A/N: If you’re struggling with an eating disorder and require additional support, please reach out to a professional who can offer help.