Natasha Toffa is the Founder of Women’s Unity Movement and is an Australian Anglo-Indian Muslim Convert; who was raised as a practicing Catholic. Women’s Unity Movement is the first of the kind and was founded in Australia in April this year. Natasha hosts elegant women’s only gatherings inviting women of all backgrounds and faiths, in order to promote unity in diversity, female empowerment, and social change. Natasha has been featured in Buzzfeed, Mama Mia, and many other platforms. We invited Natasha to join us for the #Pakistanjournaltalk session in which we host the people of vision and abilities.
How would you describe yourself to someone who has never met you?
Someone who is bubbly, creative, determined and always go, go, go, go LOL.
What made you decide to put on hijab?
My hijab journey started a week after I reverted in 2013; at first, I was only wearing it because my mother in law forced me into doing so. I battled with depression because of this and found myself going backward in Islam. After 2 and ½ years I took off my hijab and only began wearing it again full-time from March this year. This time I genuinely wanted to wear my hijab to please Allah and for myself, hijab keeps me grounded and reminds me of the woman I am while representing Muslim women. When I wasn’t wearing hijab I would reminisce about how brave I would feel wearing hijab and how nice it was for people to know I was Muslim because I was wearing my hijab.
What is your go-to saying to help you stayed empowered?
Educate those who don’t know and kill their ignorance with knowledge.
You are developing your business Women’s Unity Movement; can you explain a little about it & what you hope to achieve?
Women’s Unity Movement is the first of the kind and was founded in Australia in April this year. I host elegant women’s only gatherings inviting women of all backgrounds and faiths, in order to promote unity in diversity, female empowerment, and social change. These events encourage women to network and establish relationships that are otherwise not available in their own everyday circle. To date I have hosted 5 events and will be taking Women’s Unity Movement internationally come early next year, starting with America. Women’s Unity Movement’s special project titled Body Beautiful will also be taking internationally starting with America.
Women’s Unity Movement’s blog is a social platform that encourages all women to use their voice and speak out on issues such as racism, domestic violence, body issues and self-esteem to name a few. I also discuss upcoming projects and features in order to inspire women to work hard and go after their dreams.
Through my social media platforms and events, I hope to achieve social change globally, with the help of others. Through Body Beautiful, I hope to achieve doing my part in redefining “media beauty standards”.
Do you think that fashion in Islam can contribute reshape the views of Islam across the world?
Fashion can definitely be a contribution in the sense it educates non-Muslims on how diverse Islamic fashion is and how colorful and bold it can be. Many non-Muslims I meet are surprised that I’m not covered in all black, nor wearing a Niqab or Abaya as that’s what comes to their mind when they think of Muslim women.
You walked the Runway for Perth Fashion Festival 2017, how was the experience?
The show I got to walk in was the first Multicultural Fashion Runway Show in Australia consisting of Indian, Modest & African fashion. This already to me was mind-blowing and to have had the privilege of being the First Plus Size Muslim girl in Australia on the runway was a BIG deal. It was an amazing experience in being able to break a new barrier for Australia while representing all Plus Size Muslim & non-Muslim women globally. To do my part in redefining “media beauty standards.”
What are you looking forward to most in 2018?
2017 has been a HUGE year for me! So I’m excited to continue growing as a person and expanding Women’s Unity Movement & Body Beautiful worldwide, in order to promote social change globally.
What is one thing that has changed since you put the hijab on?
I lost a LOT of fake friends who couldn’t accept me for becoming a Muslim; however, this helped me grow in so many ways. So really they did me a favor.
I think often the West does not understand the history and the privilege of wearing a hijab. They always think of oppression, what are your thoughts about it?
Half of the west don’t know nor want to learn about Islam and because of this, they will forever be stuck in their ways of assuming Muslim women are miserable, trapped and controlled. The other half of the west don’t know about Islam but are willing to be educated and in my experience, their perception changes when you explain the history of Hijab to them and what it means to us. The best thing for us to do is not retaliate back in person or on social media with keyboard warriors, but to kill them (not literally) with our kindness, our intellect, and knowledge.
How do you feel your blog contributes to your dreams and goals of this life and the hereafter?
My blog encourages me to always stay humble and true to myself while sharing with the world how God has enabled the trauma from my past to shape me into the woman I am today. Through this and my creative side, I aim to inspire, give strength and motivation to others worldwide.
How would you describe your personal style and is there a person who is a fashion inspiration to you?
American Hip Hop / Girly Glam; some days I’ll mix the two and others I’ll wear one or the other. There isn’t any person I look to for fashion inspo, however, I’ve always had a strong love for American fashion and now as a Muslim, I just alter the looks I love while keeping modest.
If you could offer any advice to 16-year-old self, what would it be?
Be original, never alter yourself just to impress others or by trying to fit in.
What are your greatest fears?
Dying without Allah (God) being pleased with me, losing my originality and creativity.
Looking 10 years into the future where would you like to be?
Successful in my contribution to social change globally, successful in my career building an empire, successful in my marriage with children and successful in my faith.
What is your life’s motto?
Stay humble, true to yourself and in what you’re trying to create, for they will see the real you and be in admiration.
Tell me about your proudest achievement?
Through opening up and sharing my battles publically with the world, having been able to inspire, give courage and be a voice to women worldwide who are in domestic violence relationships, dealing with self-esteem issues and struggling with their identity.
If you could raid one women closet whose would it be?
Rasheeda Frost, of course, there’s never a day she’s not looking fly head to toe.
With society giving more attention to women, what advice would you give someone right now?
Have faith, stay humble, be original, be determined
What piece of advice would you give to girls who are struggling to wear hijab?
Remember that you are obligated by Allah to wear hijab and that by doing so you are identified as a Muslim and represent Islam. In saying that do not wear hijab for the wrong reasons; you’ll end up rebelling, taking it off and most likely never wearing it again. Make the intention to want to wear hijab when you are TRULY READY to commit to it, ask Allah to open your heart to hijab and Bismillah.
What are your thoughts on the rise of modern fashion?
I love how much it is evolving and how more and more non-Muslim women are opting for more modest wear! Modest fashion will continue to make its mark in the fashion industry and educate people at the same time.
Can you name one person who comes to your mind when someone says Pakistan?
Simrah Farrukh an amazing Photographer and Videographer student in LA.