Australian Idol’s Noora H On Hijabi Representation, Modest Fashion & Facing Islamophobia On TikTok

Image courtesy of Channel 7
She's become a standout performer in the top 12 of Australian Idol this year, but Noora H hasn't always felt so confident that she'd have a place on any stage.
The 28-year-old from south-west Sydney recalls her passion for music developing quite gradually during her younger years, as she grew up in a Muslim community where she felt the need to be more reserved and quiet.
"I've always loved music and singing, but I was very quiet about it," Noora tells Refinery29 Australia. "It wasn't a secret, but I just didn't let it out. Growing up in the Muslim community as a hijabi, it's just in our culture that you grow up not bringing so much attention to yourself."
Noora says she would "quietly" go to a place in her house where no one could hear, in order to practise her singing. But over the years, she's realised that her love for self-expression through music can help challenge cultural expectations about women in Muslim communities, and also improve representation in the arts.
When her friends heard her voice and encouraged her to pursue music more seriously, Noora began uploading videos of herself singing to social media. With a following of over 352,000 people on Tiktok, the travel agent has gradually developed the confidence to let her voice shine.
"I was always worried about my image in the music industry because I haven't seen anyone like me," she explains. "So, I started posting on social media and people were loving what I was giving them. They loved that I was confident enough to sing the way I do on social media, and things started to go viral."
Image courtesy of Channel 7
In deciding to audition for Australian Idol, Noora says she considered the possibility of being a role model for other hijab-wearing Muslim women in Australia, who haven't seen many people who look like them in the entertainment industry. She may not have had such a figure to look up to during her childhood, but she believes she could help inspire others who've felt like an outsider.
"Being a hijabi Muslim, I feel like I'm not only fulfilling my dream of wanting to become a pop star or performer, but I can also inspire other people from different walks of life to come out of their shells and do what they want to do as well."
Noora also wants to challenge stereotypes about Muslim women, like the perception that they are objects of oppression or can't be fashionable if they dress modestly.
The reality star says the Australian Idol wardrobe team has been aware of the clothes she "can and can't wear" and has custom-made outfits accordingly.
"There is modesty because I'm wearing a hijab, but at the same time, they [the wardrobe department] need to get me out of my shell and transform me into the performer that I'm working on becoming," she explains.
"And you can still do that. You can be a stylish hijabi and that's the beauty of my doing this... I don't want women wearing a hijab to feel like they need to be closed and quiet — they can still be modest and wear a hijab and stand out at the same time."
@noorahsinging Catch me on @Australian Idol on @7plus for Top 50 week!!! 🥹🙌🏼 #fyp #australianidol ♬ original sound - Noora H
Along with reality TV fame comes public commentary and criticism, and Noora says she's received negative and Islamophobic comments on social media, even prior to being on Australian Idol.
"On TikTok, there have been times where I've had the worst comments thrown at me and it's caused me to feel the need to just give up," she says.
After taking some time away from social media, she says she's chosen to ignore the critics and instead focus on what she loves doing, even using their criticism as "motivation to prove them wrong".
Noora is one of the impressive top 12 hopefuls who performed at Australian Idol's first live show last night. With live voting now back as the series returns after a 14-year hiatus, tonight, we'll see two contestants voted out to bring us down to the top 10. Here's hoping Noora makes it through to the next round.
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