Noor Tagouri is a Libyan-American journalist, activist, and speaker who uses her voice and platform to speak out about sex trafficking and the Muslim-American experience. In the February issues of Vogue magazine, Tagouri was meant to be honored in an editorial feature; however, when the issue was printed, they identified her instead as Noor Bukhari, a Pakistani actress, director, and model.
Tagouri drew attention to the mistake on social media, expressing her hurt in a moment that should have been celebratory, before taking the opportunity to explain “the dangers of misrepresentation and misidentification of the marginalized.”
Vogue apologized for the mistake on Instagram, sharing the photo of Tagouri with the caption “In the February issue of Vogue the writer and activist Noor Tagouri (@noor) was misidentified in a caption as “actor, director, and model Noor Bukhari.” We are sincerely sorry for the mistake. We were thrilled at the chance to photograph Tagouri and shine a light on the important work she does, and to have misidentified her is a painful misstep. We also understand that there is a larger issue of misidentification in media—especially among nonwhite subjects. We will try to be more thoughtful and careful in our work going forward, and we apologize for any embarrassment this has caused Tagouri and Bukhari.”
Here’s what you need to know about Noor Tagouri:
1. She Was the First Woman to Wear a Hijab in Playboy
In 2016, Tagouri was named one of Playboy Magazine’s “2016 Renegades” and appeared in the magazine dressed in a trendy and modest outfit while proudly wearing a hijab. Of Tagouri, Playboy wrote “as a badass activist with a passion for demanding change and asking the right questions, accompanied by beauty-ad-campaign looks, Tagouri forces us to ask ourselves why we have such a hard time wrapping our minds around a young woman who consciously covers her head and won’t take no for an answer.”
According to Allure, in response to critics who believed she should not have appeared in the magazine due to its risqué reputation, Tagouri said “A fully clothed 22-year-old Muslim American Libyan Woman took an iconic magazine and used it to spread a positive and much needed message. I did what so many women with inspiring messages of hope would have been uncomfortable doing because success for a woman is often predicated on what society deems appropriate for us to succeed in.”
2. She Started Her Career as an On-Air Reporter
According to Tagouri’s LinkedIn page, she graduated from the University of Maryland in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in International Development Conflict Management when she was only 20 years old. While she was studying, she worked as an intern for CBS radio and WUSA9. At the same time, she went viral for a photo of herself behind a news anchor desk, which sparked her #LetNoorShine campaign (“Noor” means “light”)
After graduating, she worked as a reporter and producer for CTV News, before going to Washington D.C. to anchor and produce original content for Newsy in 2016. The documentaries she has hosted include “Americanize Me” and “A Woman’s Job.”
3. She Has a Podcast Called ‘Sold in America’
In October 2018, Tagouri released the first episode of her podcast, called “Sold in America.” According to the podcast’s website, “Sold in America is an eight-episode journey into the world of selling sex in the United States.” As the podcast’s host and investigative reporter, Tagouri took her audio show around the country to “to meet the human faces of this billion-dollar trade – and uncovers its surprising misconceptions.”
4. She Gave a TEDx Talk in 2015 About Her Dreams & Identity as a Hijabi Woman
In Tagouri’s powerful and empowering TEDx Talk, she shared the story of her experience finding her identity as a Libyan-American woman and hijabi. The video currently has over 200,000 views on YouTube. To begin, she said “My story starts in the first grade. I walked into my first grade classroom and I noticed there was only one other girl with dark hair. I sat next to her and I whispered ‘are you Muslim too?’ And she looked at me a little funny and responded ‘am I what?’ And from that day on, and for the next ten years, I would go through this paralyzing identity crisis.” As she continued, she described the experiences she faced growing up feeling and overcoming shame as a young Muslim woman in a community where no one else shared her background. She spoke of what it means to wage a “personal rebellion” in order to be your most authentic self.
In her talk, she also discussed her decision to wear the hijab, and why her dream is to become the first hijabi news anchor on US commercial television and become her own “personal legend.” In a particularly moving moment in her 13-minute talk, she explained that she now knows what her responsibility as a Muslim-Arab American journalist is:
“I am the voice that explains my religion, that clarifies the context of cultural nuances, and that makes sure that when we are reporting stories regarding terrorist groups like ISIS, that we are reporting it in a way that does not generalize the Muslim population and put them in any association with these awful groups, and that especially, that this scarf on my head does not mean that I am submissive, or that I am being oppressed, in fact, it empowers me in demystifying the stigma that surrounds Muslim women.”
5. She Has Been Falsely Identified Before
Unfortunately, the misidentification in Vogue was not the first time that happened to Tagouri in a publication. Following the shooting at Pulse Nightclub, Noor Tagouri’s photo was used in an article about Omar Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman. When Tagouri found the article and her photo attached to it, she took to Twitter to tell the publication to acknowledge the mistake and correct it, which they eventually did. According to Huffington Post, the article itself did not include Tagouri’s name, but the photo’s caption had her first and last name “and it was credited to Facebook so trolls could easily track her down.” They noted that it didn’t seem as though she had received any hateful comments on her social media.
Following the Vogue error, @GenePark shared the Huffington Post article on Twitter, adding “This has happened to @NTagouri so many times before, not least of all when she was falsely identified as the wife of the Pulse shooter, which put her life in danger, all because she has the same name.” Noor retweeted the post.