Have you heard the story of Moana? The first ever disney princess with dusky skin and curly hair. In clearer words, our first step towards the acceptance of dark skin. But that’s a story, right? Do such warrior princesses really exist? The story that you are about to read, is of a girl named Namita Sunil, who was denied of what she deserved because according to the stereotypical norms of society, she was “too dark” and thus not “pretty enough”. Let’s go back in time and see how things turned out to be for her.
"My town is very small as compared to Delhi. I was very nervous before moving here"
One of Namita's fondest memories as a child, is of dressing her best friend up for imaginary fashion shows. She has been deeply interested in fashion since childhood. She would sit in front of the T.V for hours admiring women who looked like her with dark skin, wild hair, a skinny physique. In spite of what people made her feel about herself, a part of her knew that there is a place for her out there. She dreamt of making clothes for women who were never told how beautiful they were. She wanted to study fashion because of how inclusive the industry is and bring a change. After completing school, her parents agreed to let her appear for the NIFT entrance exam. She qualified the exam and her rank got her admitted to the Delhi center. She was nervous but knew that it was all that she had ever wanted. From the small, coastal town of Kochi she moved to the busy, fast-paced capital of the country, Delhi.
"Vantagold started with promoting the tints and shades of brown and making people realise how beautiful the colour actually is"
Namita has always loved Delhi. There is a place for her in this city, she believes. She had to fight for this place though, like any other person. The modelling team of NIFT always fascinated her. She wanted to be one of them, walking the ramp someday. She auditioned to be a part of the team, and got selected. It hadn’t even been a month since she had joined the team, when she was asked to leave. When she asked for a reason ‘they’ told her that she didn’t have the “right face” to be a model. This crushed her from within. The confidence that she had built over time, bit by bit, in spite of all the struggle that she had to face for the way she looked, fell apart. More than anything else, it made her furious. Why was she being treated in a certain way because of something she was born with and had no control over? In her summer break, after the first year of college got over, Namita started an instagram page called “Vantagold”. It was a medium for her to reach out to people, to say the things that she had felt all her life, out loud. Not only did she openly spoke against the struggles that come with dark skin, but also body-shaming, gender in-equality and whatever she thought was wrong in the society. With this brave step, the world around her changed.
"If I ever meet my high-school self, I am gonna ask her to hang on and appreciate the small things in life"
Today, Namita has not only shot for several well-known brands but also done editorial shoots with magazines as prestigious as the Harper’s Bazaar and Verve. The girl who was once having a hard time finding a place in the college fashion team, is now a big name in the industry. Namita also hasn’t gotten deviated from what she came here for. She models, designs, goes to college and illustrates. Sometimes she has to make tough choices, but she has her priorities set right. She doesn’t want her dreams to be confined to a profession, she has bigger goals in life. Her pictures in magazines and billboards do make her very happy, but not as happy as a message from a teen thanking her for being there does. Namita has touched lives in several ways. She has made little girls realise that they shouldn’t believe in what others ask them to believe. They should have a belief system of their own and stick to it, no matter what. All she wants is to be happy, and keep adding a little bit of herself to the world, in small ways. Fashion, to Namita, is only about what you are and what you think will look good on you. It has got nothing to do with trends. It’s an expression that has always helped her be whoever she wanted to be. It has given her the chance to explore the depth of her identity. She believes in bringing sustainability to fashion and making more space in the industry for people like her. In her story, Namita Sunil, is truly the warrior princess, the gold to her vanta.