Natalie Noel Is Navigating the Influencer Space by Simply Being Her Authentic Self (EXCLUSIVE)

'Sports Illustrated' model Natalie Noel spoke exclusively with 'Distractify' about pressures surrounding being an influencer, mental health, and more.

Gabrielle Bernardini - Author

May 20 2022, Published 12:00 p.m. ET

Though she always wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry in some capacity, Natalie Noel (real name Natalie Mariduena) never imagined that she would be a successful social media influencer.

The 25-year-old laid the groundwork for her thriving career when she decided to move from her hometown of Vernon Hills, Ill., to take up a job as her best friend David Dobrik's assistant.

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Since appearing in David's "Vlog Squad" YouTube videos, Natalie has carved out her own lane, garnering a large following — 3.5 million Instagram followers, to be exact — of fans who are completely enamored by her authenticity and, of course, her deadpan one-liners.

Hot off the heels of her second appearance in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue, Natalie sat down exclusively with Distractify to talk about creating a unique voice, combating negativity on social media, and what's next.

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Natalie Noel talks handling pressures of being an influencer and never comparing herself to others.

While some may scroll through popular social media apps trying to follow another influencer's "formula" for success, Natalie told us that she never really stopped to compare herself to other people who are navigating the same space.

"I think that just contributed to my mindset ... it doesn't matter what other people think, or what other people do," she said about not feeling pressure to conform. "As long as you're doing your own thing, and you have your own success, I feel like that makes you ultimately the coolest person around."

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Though she says it may sound a bit "cheesy," Natalie isn't burdened with posting a "perfect" Instagram shot. In fact, she noted that if you scroll through her social profiles, you'll see photos of her at an amazing event or even "just at home with my pimple cream on."

She added, "It doesn't matter. That's my life. Both ends of the spectrum."

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While she prides herself on being authentic and not concerning herself with fitting into LA "trends," Natalie isn't completely disassociated when it comes to combating naysayers and internet trolls.

"It's definitely not easy," she admitted. "There have been points in my life where I would listen to people or read comments, and I was like, very heavily affected by that."

"But I'm also the same type of person, very self-aware," she continued. "So as soon as I like, get into my head, or I start thinking things, or I'm reading too much into comments, I'm like, 'Hold on a second, take a step back. Look at your amazing life, look at all the amazing opportunities you have. And like, who cares, just keep trucking along, keep doing your thing.'"

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Natalie Noel talks mental health and self-care: "I don't owe anybody anything."

Though it is part of her job, sharing one's personal life on social media can be a bit daunting.

"I have a love-hate relationship with social media, just like anybody else," Natalie revealed. To distance herself from the underlying social pressures that come with millions of followers (and internet trolls), she told us that she sometimes takes breaks from posting or scrolling the social media platforms.

"I don't owe anybody anything," she stated. "I'm just doing me. I'm just trying to do myself to the best of my ability."

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For days when she isn't working on upcoming projects, Natalie dished on her ultimate self-care routine.

"For me, I love doing hot yoga, and a very intense skincare routine," she said — think Cassie's viral skincare routine in Season 2 of Euphoria. Her other self-love go-to's: A good Disney movie and Dave's Hot Chicken Fried sandwich. Yas, girl!

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'Sports Illustrated' model Natalie Noel talks feeling confident in her own skin and what's next.

In 2021, Natalie made her debut in the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Not afraid to show off her curves, the former high school soccer star told us that growing up and playing sports as part of a team really helped build her self-confidence.

"Being a part of a group of girls ... you had to support each other. You had no other choice," she said.

"I think I've carried that, just with me throughout life, even 'til now," she continued. "And even now, being a public figure of sorts, just having that mentality of, like, I feel valued; I feel worth it; I feel confident. And that's all I need in order to exude confidence to other people."

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Aside from being part of the Sports Illustrated family, Natalie is excited about her future endeavors — even setting her sights on the fashion industry.

Though she couldn't go into details, breaking into the realm of fashion is a "big goal" for the internet personality.

No longer just an assistant, Natalie is making her own mark in the influencer space — pimple cream and all. She just hopes that by continuing to be her authentic self, "hopefully, people will follow along."

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