Designer Shyamant Hazarika is the brains behind The Closet Case. The label is well-known among fashionistas for its chic and elegant designs. The store is located at MC Road, Barwari in Guwahati. Like all fashion labels, The Closet Case is currently promoting their latest summer collection but one thing that sets the label apart is their ‘Dark is Beautiful’ photo series.
‘The ‘Dark Is Beautiful’ campaign is a creative project developed to combat under-representation of dark-skinned people in media. Through this photo series, we wanted to challenge the belief that the value and beauty of people is determined by the fairness of their skin,’ shares the designer. He wants women to be comfortable in their own skin. ‘The world is unfortunately rife with various ‘isms’. Racism and sexism often get a ton of attention, and for good reason. But colorism, or holding lighter skin tones as more beautiful, is another damaging practice that can make people feel like they’re less worthy than others. If modern-day fairness cream advertisements are anything to go by, we all need fair skin to get the perfect job, become successful or even to find a good partner to spend your life with. For a country obsessed with fairness, it is about time for people to come forward to challenge these standards in a strong manner and shatter ridiculous stereotypes.’
His muse is Antara, a strong and confident young woman who has battled her share of colorism. ‘When Shyamant called me up and shared the vision of this project, I knew I had to do it. The vision of breaking away from the myth of only fair being lovely, and that dark is not beautiful made me instantly relate to the subject. I could connect to this project because as a teenager and even now, I battle colorism and skin shaming. I was laughed at many times because of my colour; even my parents were asked if I was their daughter at all.’
Her family and friends have also appreciated the series. ‘They admired the locations, the look and feel of every shot, they were in awe of the larger-than-life frames and one thing they all expressed was “it’s unlike the other shoots we see”. It also made them see me in a whole different light altogether. Or at least, I hope it did,’ revealed Antara.
Dark skinned women are often told how to dress and what to wear but this summer collection wants women to break away from all the restrictions . ‘They are told not to wear white, when in fact, white brings out the dusky glow. Similarly, they are asked not to wear prints, bright hues, pastels – and the list is endless. So, we have incorporated a lot of whites, lovely pastels, bright shades and eclectic prints to break the myths, and end this debate once and for all.’
The campaign has received a lot of love from women of all ages across social media platforms. ‘It’s been just a few weeks since we started the campaign, and the reaction so far has been overwhelming. It has sparked an outpouring of women speaking up about their identities in a really beautiful way. Many people say they can relate to our message and that they have experienced bias as well. We think there is hope for change.’
Maybe more campaigns like this can help women, of different shapes, sizes and skin colour, love themselves more. We also agree with Antara that, ‘We all need to and should feel beautiful about the skin we are born to.’
Photos: Suraj Dutta and Krishnakshi Goswami
As told to Meeta Borah