Tuesday 22 June 2021

Interview with Namitha Marimuthu

Monika: Today I have invited an inspirational woman from India. Namitha Marimuthu is a top model, artist, beauty pageant queen, actress, and transgender activist. She was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. She is Miss Trans Queen India 2018, Miss Trans Star International 2019, and Pageant Director of Miss Trans Star India 2021. Namitha is also known for her role of Priya in Naadodigal 2 by Samuthirakani (2020). Hello Namitha!
Namitha: Monika, you have given me an amazing introduction. Lots of love to you, Sister. 
Monika: How are you doing these crazy pandemic times?
Namitha: I’m really scared for India right now. We are in the top two of all countries in the world with the Covid-19 crisis today. We have been experiencing many deaths and such a loss for families and friends. We will still survive and I request each of you to get tested before vaccination. And please get vaccinated along with your family and friends. Stay home, stay safe India. 
Monika: It is always fascinating for me to talk to sisters from different continents, especially so talented as yourself. How did you start modeling?
Namitha: Initially I was really a lost person with no real meaning in life, especially after getting a legal separation from my parents when I was 19. Furthermore, when I reached adulthood, my weight was 120 kg. I started working out really hard to make a real transformation. After 2 years of hard work I lost more than 60kg!
Then I started taking part in beauty pageants: first a small-scale pageant for trans women in my city, then state to national events, and today international recognition gives me bumps as everything is possible only if you try to push yourself to be your better self and show it to the world.

"Initially I was really a lost person with no real meaning
in life, especially after getting a legal separation from my
parents when I was 19."

Modelling started for me with trying out fashionable clothes every day and having fun. Then later it was more about meeting people who work in fashion to make a change around them. This was the driver that gave me strength to stand even stronger to support the transgender cause, so this is where I’m today. It is a Miracle! So miracles do happen when you see those smiling faces. It is the true meaning of life and it has taught me a lot. I really do appreciate that fashion has a mass industry that has given us the revolution we need today.
Monika: Did you take part in any fashion events outside of India? Are you satisfied with your modeling career?
Namitha: Yes, Barcelona was my first European trip where I got to take part in Miss Trans Star International 2019 and won the first international titles: Miss Popular and Miss Public Choice.
In addition, I explored Bangkok and Dubai fashion weeks, and I would really love to work in Paris soon, as I’m planning to move there to work for a bigger international brand. I also want them to provide more opportunities for Indian transwomen.
Monika: What kind of outfits do you usually wear when you are not on a fashion catwalk? Any special fashion designs, colours or trends?
Namitha: I love wearing new outfits every day, including my traditional saree and Indian styled gowns and Lehenga and also international styles. Gucci, Chanel, LV, Prada, Burberry, Versace, Dior, Armani, Fendi, D&G, Balenciaga, Adidas and Calvin Klein are my favourite brands and yellow, red, black, white, grey, green, navy and orange are my preferred colours. I love the current trends worldwide and I am looking forward to more futuristic fashion.
Monika: What is the attitude of the Indian fashion industry towards transgender women?
Namitha: Fashion in India has more and more opportunities for transwomen but we need more companies to provide us with more opportunities. The number of transgender women working for the Indian fashion industry is much lower comparing internationally. Hence I request both India and international brands to be more inclusive for transwomen, so they can empower other transgender women in the fashion industry.

"Miss Trans Star International was my very
first international pageant."
Official candidate introduction, MTSI 2019.

Monika: The 2019 Miss Trans Star International was your first international beauty pageant, right? How did you prepare yourself for it? Who helped you with dresses, hair, and makeup?
Namitha: Yes, Miss Trans Star International was my very first international pageant. It was really very difficult to get a visa for an Indian transwoman for the pageant. I fought with the Spanish Embassy in India with the support of Miss Victoria Caram, who was our pageant director. Finally after legal action I got my visa to travel to Barcelona, Spain. However, the embassy didn’t allow any other person to travel with me. They only gave me a visa saying I can travel alone only.
It was my very first trip to Europe. My preparation started way back in India, first with my beauty treatments and then with outfits, picking up my very close friend who is a fashion stylist and an architect. My outfit was designed by the designer Valdrin Sahiti and couriered to Spain from India. It was very difficult for a single person to carry all my outfits at one shot hence I chose to courier my outfits.
My national costume was 45kg; it was a huge outfit, which was imported from Bangkok to India and from India to Spain. None of my outfits arrived on time, as all the courier services failed to serve me. I spent more than 3000£ to ship all these outfits. But sadly nothing arrived on time, so I needed to travel from Calella to Barcelona airport to check on my outfits but the courier was sent to doorstep delivery, which took 2 days to reach from Barcelona to Calella on the morning of our finals. My team from India didn’t stop fighting to get my couriers out. Finally the outfits reached me and I could wear them.
Monika: How about your makeup and hair?
Namitha: My make-up artist and hairstylist was a female professional from Barcelona. My team arranged for me this lady, and she was really friendly and supportive. She could stay all night with me, sharing dinner and shopping each night. Since I didn’t get my daily outfits to wear, I needed to shop each day to dress up for the next day. She was really very helpful. 
But later when it came to paying her, she demanded more than 3000£ for 2 days of makeup and hairstyle. My team approached her with the deal of 600£ for two days with travel expenses and food covered by us for the two day work. But she was really this na├»ve person inside.
I was really friendly to her more than a sister, she even appointed for me a camera person telling me that I was really very beautiful and she wants to increase her social media standards with my photographs. But while paying her debts she created this huge scorn around me demanding from me more and more money, so I was helpless.

"I explored Bangkok and Dubai fashion weeks,
and I would really love to work in Paris soon"
Photo: @chandrubharathy and @focuzstudios.

Monika: Did you have enough money with you?
Namitha: Honestly speaking I had my money safe thanks to Miss Victoria Caram who transferred 800£ to the makeup artist account via mobile transfer. But this makeup artist was chasing me and demanding more and more money. I think she had this idea that she could rob me. I said I provided her with more what I agreed for, which was 800£ and travel and food for those two days. However, she spoiled my name with all my fellow contestants saying that I didn’t pay her at all. She didn’t stop there. When backstage I was in conversation with her, she snatched my purse and took 500 euro, and I lost my bus back to the hotel with the contestants.
Monika: So you were left totally penniless!
Namitha: I was left with no cash and totally alone on the road because I had already sent my luggage to the bus. Thank God I had Miss Uruguay and her team who took me in their car to the hotel where they stayed in Calella. They offered me dinner and dropped me back at my hotel. The next morning after all this drama, the makeup lady came from Barcelona to Calella again to blackmail me for more money and took my purse again and took 100 Euro, which was my last money I had for the end of my trip. She again created all this drama saying I cheated her by not paying and she said she would file a complaint against me for cheating. After this conversation I told her to do whatever she wants, as I was not going to pay her.
After the legal help from the hotel and team in India, she left because my team had no choice but to threaten her saying they will raise complaints from the Indian embassy in Barcelona. Even after this, getting 1600 euro for two day makeup and hairstyle, she created a bad name with my contestants again. Since all of them were Latinas, I did not speak their language and I couldn’t fight for myself, so I was not aware of what she was talking about. Finally she left the hotel.
Monika: Gosh! What a story!
Namitha: I had other problems already, number one was no money left to take a trip to the Barcelona airport. I also had some good friends who had nothing but me to help them, so I arranged some money from India with the help of my team, and I managed to stay for a day in a Calella hotel with Miss Ghana and Miss Georgia who shared a hotel rent and dinner that night.

"I love wearing new outfits every day, including
my traditional saree and Indian styled gowns and
Lehenga and also international styles."
Photo: @chandrubharathy and @focuzstudios.

I had my flight back after 2 days of finals and Miss Ghana was all alone in Calella. Without knowing the language, I managed to go to the airport. Miss Ghana had some help from airport authorities and got her flight to Amsterdam since she couldn’t get back to Ghana once she revealed her transgender status to the world. In Africa, she was not allowed to go back and she had already received death threats while she was in Barcelona. So our Mom, Miss Victoria Caram, decided to take Miss Ghana to Amsterdam, and finally I took my flight to India, which was 19 hours due to a connecting flight to India.
Monika: Did you have any sponsors that supported your participation in the pageant?
Namitha: Yes, I did but the sponsors were not of large impact. I had some sponsorship from India. A director who shot a film about transwomen provided me with air tickets. My grooming was also taken care of by a lady named Miss Latha Sir, who's a well-known pageant trainer in Chennai, my birth city. Many famous celebrity fashion designers in India supported my outfits. The Indian government finally agreed to send me to Barcelona, which was the biggest support from my country. The trust they had for me gave me more power to do my best in the competition.
Monika: What was the atmosphere among the pageant contestants? Did you have a chance to make friends with some of them?
Namitha: The pageant was really very thrilling because it was my first trip to Spain and the language was really hard for me to catch up with. The contestants were mostly Spanish speakers, so little English was spoken during the competition but I still managed to make friends. Miss Georgia was my roommate and Miss Ghana, Miss Mauritius, Miss Honduras, Miss Uruguay, Miss Switzerland, Miss Brazil, Miss USA, Miss Angola and all my Asian mates were my besties. Miss Cuba, who's no longer with us, fought for my luggage with the airport authority in Barcelona. Miss Lucy who's the director of Miss Uruguay helped me throughout the competition. Also, my mom Victoria took me shopping, so I have a lot of good memories. I miss Barcelona.

"Bangkok is my second mother country. I feel the love
for pageantry in Thailand is bigger than anywhere else
in the world." - Photo by @zoomin_momentz.

Monika: Have you ever thought about taking part in Miss International Queen in Thailand? 
Namitha: Miss International Queen is the only driver, which changed my life forever. I do visit Bangkok each year for more than 3 trips as I do most of my shopping in Bangkok. I heard of MIQ and I’ve been a huge fan of the event. Also, I’ve not missed any competition on TV so far.
Bangkok is my second mother country. I feel the love for pageantry in Thailand is bigger than anywhere else in the world. So I have applied for Miss International Queen 2022, hoping for my application to move forward through the next set of verification and hoping to rock the stage soon. Recently I got an email from Miss International Queen Organization saying the competition will take place in February 2022 to March 2022 with all COVID protections.


All the photos: courtesy of Namitha Marimuthu.
© 2021 - Monika Kowalska

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