Nam Niram campaign is dedicated to everyone who belong to the Tamil community irrespective of their caste. The whole concept of bringing Nam Niram into the main collection was to not glorify the dark skin tone but to normalise it. There is no pride or disgrace attached to it.

The idea behind it started from my younger brother’s emotions and feelings towards being dark skinned. Since childhood he has been mocked or ridiculed for his skin tone. He has had nick names since he was a child. It did affect him. I got to know these through my parents when he was studying college in Pune. He faced an even worse situation because he had developed an inferiority complex by now(skin tone being one of the reasons). On the other hand, I was also subjected to such language since I was in middle school. I have had weird names being framed for me. In fact even I have done it to a couple of friends who are dark skinned, comparing our skin tones to see who is the darkest. While doing my Bachelors in Bombay, my North Indian friends have used different adjectives to call me. All this aside, I never developed any inferiority complex or felt bad for being called names like these, because everyone in your friends’ group would have a nick name. Some take pride in it, some feel embarrassed and some feel nothing about it. I belonged to the third category somehow. For a lot of people, it actually hurts. We chose this concept because skin tone mockery has a very long and dark history to it. Tamilians are predominantly dark skinned. Dark skin discrimination is deeply ingrained in society, with lighter skin tones often being associated with beauty, privilege, and success. This bias is perpetuated through media, advertising, and popular culture, which often promote lighter skin tones as the ideal. Individuals with darker skin tones are often subjected to ridicule, bullying, and marginalisation, which can impact their self-esteem and mental health.

But the irony here is, we make fun of each-other. We amongst friends call each each other blacky or karuvaayan…etc, we respond back by saying, “Poda pool-u! Ivaru Periya paal niram”. The immediate response to this is, “Otha, Nee ennoda karuppu da!” And this goes on and on in a loop, but at the end of the day we all know it’s all fun and games and we laugh it off. However, the stigma is deep rooted in a lot of situations. I remember going to the hospital to see my best friend’s new born baby girl, not to my surprise, his mother-in-law told us “Nalla vela ponnu colour ah porandhuduchi, pombala pulla karuppa poranthurumo nu bayathutu irundhom!”. Dark skin has always been associated with ugliness, being dirty and untrustworthy-ness. Our society has long been plagued with colourism, which is the prejudiced treatment of individuals based on the colour of their skin. Light skin has often been associated with privilege and beauty, while dark skin has been stigmatized and associated with negative stereotypes. However, it is essential to recognise that beauty comes in all shades and forms. Sadly, for this stigma to break away, we have to take extra steps to make people feel that dark skin is nothing of the above and it’s just normal. We have to make dark skin look beautiful in order to break the stereotypes. Dark skin beauty is an essential aspect of diversity and inclusivity.

This bias is particularly prevalent in the entertainment and fashion industries, where individuals with lighter skin tones are often preferred over those with darker skin tones. And then there were these fairness creams which were a huge hit for a very long period of time, that was just so wrong on so many levels. We were fooled into thinking that growing fair using these creams makes you desirable. Many individuals resort to harmful practices such as skin bleaching to achieve lighter skin tones. Skin bleaching can have severe health consequences, including skin damage, cancer, and other health problems.

A lot of hard-work is to be done in order to feed the brains of people to make them understand that dark skin is normal and not to be picked on. I state this with a very heavy heart. I remember director cum cinematographer P. C. Sreeram saying in one his interviews that everything has to be displayed in a beautiful way for people to like it when they show anything onscreen. Even in cinema the representation of dark skinned actresses in leading roles is almost zero. Whereas people have accepted male actors in any skin tone but women have never had a representation in the natural dark skin.

 We have had comments on our social media posts ridiculing our models. We have always made sure that we prioritise to use a dark skinned model to represent our products for marketing. It did make us think twice to shoot with dark models but fuck it, we wanted to be true to our conscience and our believers so we stuck to the former.

We chose to do this design by picking out a common skin tone between me and my brother and it is represented in a Pantone colour chip format. The colour chips are presented in this format in the fashion industry. We felt this was the most ideal way to go about for this design since this has an aesthetic appeal to it. Even the BLM movement made use of this format for one of their campaigns.

It is Angi’s responsibility to drive the narrative home and normalise dark skin tone models in all our shoots. In fact we are looking to take it a step further by randomly picking people irrespective of their age, gender or body type to model for our forthcoming campaigns and hence we present the Nam Niram campaign with random people posing for our shoots. Let Nam Niram be the first step towards the biggest change we want to bring into the fashion world through Angi, after all we represent Identity and Identity is Everything! So expect all kinds of people and skin tones in our forthcoming shoots and campaigns. Like my wife often says, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.”