Exclusive Interview with Miss New York, the Moroccan Iman Oubou

Written by Souad El Mghari

We got introduced to Iman Oubou a few weeks ago as Miss state of New York. Originally from Morocco, where she lived most of her life, this beauty queen is more than just looks.

Moroccan Ladies: Could you please introduce yourself to our readers in more details?

Imane Oubou : My name is Iman and I am a proud Moroccan American currently living in New York. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a Masters in Biomedical Engineering. I have been working as a cancer research scientists for a couple years and now I am a Science Communications Specialist. I am also very involved with medical missions across the world. I have accompanied “Mission To Heal” on missions to South Sudan, Nigeria and Ecuador, and I organized a mission to my native country Morocco on April 2014, where we worked with local hospitals in the Souss region.

How old were you when you moved to the US?

My Family moved from Agadir to Colorado in 2006, and I was about 15 years old.

What is your career like at the moment?

I have been pursuing my career in the biomedical field and it has been a successful one. However I have big entrepreneurial aspirations and I am currently working on a few business projects

Why did you choose to leave Colorado and go to New York?

New York is where dreams come true and if you can make it here you can make it anywhere (As Alicia Keys says in her song Empire State of Mind). But on a serious note, New York is not just a city; it’s a world on its own. When I lived in Denver, I started traveling to NYC frequently for business at the time and all my meetings were taking place in New York. So I started falling in love with this city little by little and kept telling my parents that it was time for me to seek bigger opportunities in a bigger city. In addition, it is the best city in terms of networking and making meaningful connections as an entrepreneur.

How did you get into the world of beauty pageant? And was it easy for you, seeing that you are of Moroccan origins?

When I graduated college and left for Germany, I received invitations to participate in Miss Colorado USA. At the time I had no idea about how to be in a pageant so I rejected the invite. But my mother insisted and encouraged me to try it just as an experience, and promised to help me every step of the way. And she did! So thanks to her, I signed up for my very first pageant, and due to my competitive personality, kept wanting more, as I saw it being a motivating way to keep bettering myself.

I wouldn’t say it was easy because of my Moroccan origins, but being multicultural and multilingual gave me a unique advantage and helped me stand out at times. Needless to say in some pageants there were other girls from different backgrounds and nationalities as well.

You have been elected Miss Colorado, then Miss New York. What do you think made people choose you for those titles?

I believe that my involvement with charities and my passion for empowering other women definitely helped me become a titleholder at both states.

Seeing that the western beauty is very popular in those states, how would you explain that the judges succumbed to your eastern beauty?

Well the one thing they said at the end is that I looked like « Amal Alamuddin Clooney » (laughs), which is an honor (She’s my new idol!). However what I can say is that outer beauty is subjective and I don’t think judges are going for a certain look. Outer beauty is what catches their eye but inner beauty is what makes a strong and positive impression. And there is no ‘western vs. eastern’ when it comes to your inner self, your aspirations and your passion.

Do you think Americans appreciate the Moroccan beauty? And why?

From my experience, the answer is yes. I believe it is due to that exotic look, which is not common here.

What relationship do you still have with Morocco? And how often do you visit it?

My whole extended family I grew up with is still in Morocco. So I maintain every day contact with Morocco.  I try to go back as often as I can but with my busy schedule I can only go once a year (if I am lucky!).  I organized a medical mission to the Souss region in April 2014 and I am happy and proud that it was a great success.

In your experience, what do Americans think about Morocco, and the Moroccan woman?

In my experience it has been nothing but positive thoughts about Moroccans. Although I must admit that Americans are not all familiar with our country. It has gotten better over the past few years because Argan Oil put Morocco in the map for the western world but I still get questions about ‘where it is’ or ‘if it’s all Sand Dunes and camels’ (Laughs)!

As far as the Moroccan woman goes, they certainly think that we are one of the most beautiful and exotic looking women in the world. I definitely get a lot of compliments about my natural tan skin and dark features and I have my Moroccan origins to thank for that.

You have a fashion and style related blog. How did it start?

It’s not a secret that I am a fashionista at heart and ALWAYS loved to dress up. When I was Miss Colorado US International I was constantly asked about my outfits when I attended events or did appearances.  Therefore, I decided to just create a blog where I can share with everyone my outfits and where I shop.

How would you describe your style?

My style is classy and modern with a touch of girl power. I make sure that what I wear makes the statement that I am a hard working businesswoman but a fun and flirty one as well. I don’t like the boring business casual/corporate attire so I spice that up while keeping it classy. I have been seeing a lot of caftan inspired brands/clothing lately but I have yet to incorporate some Moroccan fashion in my style.

What do you think about the Moroccan caftan?

What’s not to LOVE about it? I follow Caftan fashion shows every year and the more I watch it, the more I fall in love with it. I also love that there is a modern type of Caftan now and I thought about promoting that as a Hollywood red carpet attire. I am sure celebrities here will become obsessed with it. It’s only a matter of time before they catch on to it.

Could you share with us your beauty routine?

I am a true Moroccan and I swear by Argan oil (from an early age). Every night I wash my face with a cleanser and the Neutrogena microdermabrasion machine to really deep clean my pores, and then I put Argan oil as a moisturizer and Barbary Fig Seed Oil. But I am very particular about my oils. I have to make sure they are 100% pure. I try not to use any synthetic products on my face because the chemicals can be harmful for our skin.

Is there any exclusive news that you would want to share with us?

I am launching a skincare collection in collaboration with a Moroccan brand based in the U.S. And I am so excited to share more with you and everyone in Morocco and the Middle East more details about this as we are approaching the launch. Stay Tuned!

What are your future projects, after the Miss United States?

Well I hope to continue making empowering women across the nation and the world, only this time as Miss United States☺ . My projects include building up on my soon-to-be launched podcast called ‘Entrepreneurs En Vogue’ and hopefully turn that into to a TV talk show where I will be hosting the most influential business women across the world.

I also hope to expand my skincare collection to an even bigger brand carried worldwide. I will also keep working on my fashion blog and aim to share my street style with my fan base as I evolve into a successful businesswoman. Last but not least, I will keep carrying medical missions across the world and more importantly will work very hard on implementing the mobile surgical unit concept in Morocco.

In case you win the title Miss USA (which we hope would happen), what would you like to achieve through it?

I would like to build a community for us women to empower each other and insist on each other’s success. We are born into a society that teaches young girls to perceive their bodies as a project and to believe that physical appearance is their best asset. And that’s what I hope to change by encouraging young women to think as entrepreneurs and show them that women are leaders, creators and mentors.