Zanab Jaffrey’s parents: Her challenging upbringing

Zanab Jaffrey

In Love is Blind, Zanab Jaffrey and Cole Barnett seemed to have a genuine connection – they bonded over their careers in real estate, their desire to have many children, and their Christian beliefs. However, things started going downhill after their engagement; nobody expected Zanab to say ‘I do’ to Cole. 

Cole’s comments about Zanab’s body destroyed her self-confidence. She told Variety:

“I did love him. The things he was saying to me did hurt. I was somehow trying to make myself desirable to him. I never had someone speak to me that way about my body or eating.”

Zanab’s parents divorced when she was young and died when she was a teenager

In Episode 1 of Season 3, Zanab opened up to Cole about her parents. Zanab was born in Irvine, Scotland, on 31st March 1990 and grew up alongside a sister eight years older than her. Jaffrey’s parents divorced when she was young. 

Zanab moved to the United States when she was in fifth grade. Aged 13, Zanab lost her father following a water skiing trip in Lake Worth. Jaffrey’s father was rushed to the hospital after complaining of pain in his back and died while receiving treatment. 

Jaffrey’s stepmother, Beverly, took custody of the teenager. Zanab lost her mom to brain tumors five years after her dad’s death. The growths were benign but didn’t respond to treatment; they kept growing, leading to her death. 

Zanab told Cole she ‘grieved for like a decade,’ and the deaths made her ‘grow up really fast.’

Cole and his family seemed to have a problem with Jaffrey’s race

cole and Zanab Jaffrey
Patrick Wymore/Netflix

Jaffrey’s Instagram page has Pakistani initials, publicizing her Pakistani roots. Cole didn’t say it outright, but he seemed to have an issue with Jaffrey’s race.  

One of the standout scenes in Love is Blind showed Barnett comparing Jaffrey with Colleen Reed. Cole and Reed hit it off in the pods, but he didn’t form an emotional connection with her, so he proposed to Jaffrey. 

In episode 4, Jaffrey told his fiance that he rated her 9/10, but Reed was a perfect 10/10. Cole went as far as suggesting a ‘fiancee swap’ with Matt Bolton, who was engaged to Reed. “Colleen is a knockout and I will never look like her,” Jaffrey lamented. “I unfortunately will never look like Colleen.”

When Cole mentioned her insecurities to Barnett, he said: “Do you think I thought a girl with the name Zanab would look like the other girls I’ve dated with names like Lily?” Zanab told Variety that she and Cole had conversations about her inferiority compared to the white girls he’d dated. Jaffrey said:

“In the heat of that moment, I didn’t necessarily hear it. But we’d had conversations about women he previously dated. There were many conversations about how I did not look like it or live up to it.”

Cole’s family also seemed to have a problem with Zanab’s race. She told the other girls on the show that she was bothered about her fiance’s family’s refusal to meet with her. “My parents are out of the picture.,” Zanab said. “These are the living grandparents that my kids will spend every holiday with.”

Zanab continued: “He’s [Cole] has a conversation with them and they’ve straight up said, ‘She’s not the type of girl we’d see you with.’” Fans empathized with Zanab, flooding Twitter with comments about racial bias. @lilgabbs1 tweeted:

“All my fellow women of color watching Love is Blind know that this situation between Cole and Zanab is a tale as old as time. WOC have to be twice as attractive to even be considered ‘desirable’ meanwhile mediocre white women just get to exist.”