“I remember feeling so dramatically awful when I was ridiculed for my skin tone in front of many other bloggers at an event. It ruined my confidence and I desperately looked for concealers that hid my blemishes and wore foundations that were not for my skin tone just to appear the standard of “fair” that people wanted to see from a fashion blogger. Today, if I can go back, I want to tell my younger self that it’s okay, It’s okay to show those hormonal pimples, be comfortable in your own skin, ignore the shades of prejudice and flaunt the shade you are”
Meet Uma Ram, who calls her handle the “Proud Brown Girl” – A fashion and travel blogger who hails from Pondichery and works in Chennai. She runs the blog whilst working a full-time job as an engineer in Amazon.
Are you one of those who cracks “harmless racial jokes”? Are you one of those insecure people trying to fit into the “perfect” society and ashamed of your true skin? Uma has a message for all of you as she has emerged from all the negativity to successfully cater to more than 7k followers of her fashion blog!
When did you start your blog?
Well, it’s a story. I started my fashion blog a few years back as “Dazzler”. I started it with a lot of passion to share fashion ideas and travel tips and photos. However, being from a conservative family my parents forced me to take the pictures down from social media, with the fear of misuse from the fact that it is public exposure. Moreover my focus at work died down and my productivity starting hitting an all-time low as I was diverted with the events and collaborations that I was approached for. So I deleted the blog altogether and started concentrating at work. But deep down, I knew I had to get back to what I loved doing and hence started afresh with “Proud Brown Girl”
Why the “Proud Brown Girl” Tag?
The most common ridicule or comment that I received when I started out was “You’re so black”. Most comments used to target my skin as the sole reason to not do fashion or travel blogging. What could someone possibly change about what they’re born with? It bruised my self-confidence so much that I used to delete the comments the moment I knew it was going to impair my mental health. When I started afresh, I wanted to make sure the tag calls out boldly and clearly that, hey, I know what color I am and I am proud of it. Today, I have grown to ignore and set aside the negativity.
When you started out, how did you figure out collaborations?
It’s fortunate to have really helpful and kind people in this field. Tamara, Vriksham Jewellery were some of the initial collaborations and they continue to be in touch for collaborations. For photography, Rahul Ravindran was so kind that he did not even charge me for the initial shoot. When you have such experienced people to guide your path, things become easier.
How do you manage your schedule with work?
It does get a little overwhelming at times on weekdays. I schedule most of the shoots on weekends but if an event is on a weekday, then I end up taking a permission at office. I have grown to manage better now than when I started out.
Do you think the society is more accepting now and has evolved from its narrow perception of how someone should look like “ideally”?
Well, I still feel we have a long way to go. The day the parlour girl stops trying to sell me a fairness facial, that’s when the real change has happened. There have been times when I thought it’ll be easier to be fair, but I’ve gotten used to myself and grown to love myself. But, yes it is heartening to see that dark skin is a lot more accepted and celebrated. White, Chocolate, caramel, toffee – it’s all in.
What is the biggest takeaway you’ve had for yourself from the inception of your fashion blog?
I was unsteady and unsure when I started but as it grew, it became much bigger than what I set out and imaged for myself. I started to understand the blogging space better. I am very comfortable with myself today, I know I am different and I am very proud of it.
What is your message to the readers?
If you’re a darker shade of brown, you were probably the recipient of derogatory comments. If you are lighter skinned, you would have heard poems in praise of your “beauty”. Whatever may be your skin colour, talent speaks out aloud. Look beyond the colours to unveil greater shades that you never imagined existed.