Areeba and Noor Unahar Siddique are a set of amazingly artistic and talented Pakistani identical twins hailing from the city of lights. The duo was born on the sixteenth of August 1997, which currently makes them twenty years old. These two are not your average-everyday-type girls, they are icons, artists and activists. The two found their success through at first, their blogs and then social media or more specifically Instagram, with Areeba (@ohareeba) and Noor (Noor_unnahar) garnering over 59.k and 76.1k followers on their accounts respectively. They have gained traction due to their unabashed personality which translates into their photography, writing and their famous art journals, the twins have found a way to be heard through their art in a society which refuses to listen.
Areeba is a blogger, artist, writer, YouTuber but more importantly, she is an activist for feminist causes, this particular detail is specifically important because unlike much of the youth of this generation who choose to stay surrounded by a veil of ignorance, she has chosen to speak out in the face of injustice.
Areeba’s blog ‘Not your type’ is a unique platform. or more accurately is a realm for those who are searching for a voice of reason, a world of drowned out whispers. The blog contains not only her art pieces but also her raw emotions, her dreams her passion, her cause, her ‘voice’. Simultaneously, it is also just a simple safe haven for the thoughts of a normal twenty-year-old with words and illustrations that preserve the innocent ongoings of her life. Another impressive point to remember about her is that even after her gathered success, she has not let go of her religion and culture, you can always see hints of her background, and her pride in it, in whatever she creates. But even after having strong connections to her country, her work has not only found supporters in Pakistan but has also claimed the hearts of many overseas, with her work being exhibited in London and published in magazines in places as prominent as New York.
She thinks of herself, (rightfully so!) as a self-sufficient source of happiness, something that not a lot of people in this day and age can claim. An important lesson we can take away from Areeba is that she accepts herself for what she is; a Pakistani. According to her, it was difficult to relate to readers and her audience before she accepted that fact because her work seemed white-washed and in genuine to some extents due to the persona she had unknowingly adopted which is understandable, because how can one write about their emotions if they have a mask on at all times.
On the other hand, Noor Unnahar is a writer and blogger who is known for her poetry, as well as, her passion for photography. Her blog ‘noors place’ is an aesthetically pleasing journey that makes one feel as if they have stepped into a world of impeccable beauty, where every nook and corner is decorated with ardent stains of emotions and art. It is easy to lose yourself in the emotional labyrinth that is Noor’s blog because every word, every picture casually makes its way to your heart because of its intense relatability. Noor, at the age of just twenty, has achieved so much more than she had ever hoped to, her book ‘yesterday I was the moon’ is forthcoming with Clarkson Potter/ Random House and will be released by the end of March. She was not only featured on Mornings in Pakistan but also in Famous Birthdays, Her Culture, Affinity Magazine interview, Eat Culture feature, Elle India, Instagram’s official page and Blogosphere magazine.
Noor began her tumultuous journey around the time when she was in the 8th grade and it felt like her knees would buckle due to the stress that had accumulated due to the tedious weight of her studies. She felt trapped, not only physically but also mentally. Her mind was filled with colourful ideas and vivid visions but she had no means to translate those intangible abstractions into the cold realm of reality. She knew that she had to write, she had always known. But somehow, ‘the simple prose’ was not competent enough to carry forward her thoughts; she needed something more.Her artistic expedition truly began the day she picked up one of her notebooks and decided to use it as an art journal. When she started that journal, she had no idea that it would grow from simple doodling and watercolour paintings into something much more complex, i.e. into a world of its own.She initially found inspiration from Tumblr posts and soon was gathering visual inspiration from other places. If we look at Noor’s story the thing that becomes very clear is that nothing can be achieved by just sitting around and sulking, that if one truly has passion and art flowing through their veins. They need to start working on their art RIGHT NOW. Because if not now, when?
The two sisters are on a mission; they have a clear vision in mind. They want to make themselves be heard, and tell stories that no one else would otherwise. They find inspiration in the simple things in life, like human beings and their unimaginable strength. the way they ‘bear loses’, ‘carry love’ and ‘create new worlds within their existence’. As for other inspirations, the girls find inspiration in many prominent social figures; Ocean Vuong, Kaveh Akbar, Fatimah Asghar, Safia Elhillo, Warsan, Dina Tokio, Tavi Gevinson, Lorde and last but not the least, each other.
Areeba and Noor Unnahar Siddique come from a traditional Pakistani household, with typical conservative cultural values.So clearly them spending long hours online and being as vocal as they are, was certainly frowned upon.The kind of ‘ average girls’ that their family and the society expects them to be, cannot be more far off from the blazingly ingenuine human beings they truly are.Contrary to popular belief success did not come easily to them, they weren’t handed their achievements on a silver platter.No, they had and still have to fight for everything they have accomplished in life.Because even after being globally recognized, at the end of the day they still are just two Pakistani girls who have to face the misogynistic values that plague this nation. They have encountered discrimination on the basis of their genders on numerous occasions, but the twins have never let these hurdles ever sway them from the path they have chosen to walk upon.
Along the same lines, Noor has provided her sentiments on this matter by being completely proud and comfortable in her skin. Her identity as a Pakistani woman has allowed her to explore art forms that she wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.Her diverse background has permitted her to stay calm within her own being and skin, while completely understanding the conventions and wants of the society that surrounds her.As far as feminism is concerned, Noor reinstates the notion that the term itself means different things to different people, especially in a country that is driven by religion like Pakistan. To her, however, feminism is a sort of movement that provides a platform to the unheard, a stage where their voices can not only be heard but also echo. Just by scrolling through their blogs and Instagram accounts one can see how deeply the concept of feminism is embedded in their souls.It is not just something they believe in, it is something far more complex than that, one can see its brilliant lustre in everything that they do.
Any Pakistani artist or more specifically Pakistani woman can take inspiration from the duo and learn that nothing good will come by silencing yourself and shrinking into the background. That even if you belong to a traditional Muslim household, it does not mean that you let go of your dreams and set your wishes on fire.Everything you want in life, you can achieve it. even in the society, we live in. All one needs is drive and passion, that in itself is enough to carry them forward towards success.One of the biggest lessons one can take away from these twins is that there is a crucial need to be yourself. In a world that is constantly getting more and more whitewashed by the second, people need to desperately hold on to their culture and heritage. One must realize that there is no need to try to change yourself to fit into any mould, but instead like Areeba and Noor, one needs to realize the raw power that exists within their own souls.