If you spend any time on Tiktok, you’ll notice that “Naarmcore” has become a trending word referring to Melbourne style.
It seems like Naarmcore has originated from normcore – a fashion trend popular in Melbourne that’s characterised by unpretentious, average-looking clothing. The Naarmcore label, which originates from a Woiwurrung and Boonwurrung word that people use to refer to the place now known as Melbourne, has been attached to videos of people dressed in the same unpretentious style.
Let us explain why this should not be a thing.
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Many people have begun referring to Melbourne as “Naarm”. However, genuine decolonising practices must go much deeper than this simple gesture.
The word Naarm can be spelt many ways (also Narrm and Nairm) and is used by both the Woiwurrung and Boonwurrung language groups of the central Kulin nation.
In Woiwurrung language, people use this word to refer to “the scrubland” of what’s now the Melbourne CBD area. In Boonwurrung language, people use this word to refer to “the bay”, covering the Port Phillip Bay area of Victoria.
We love when people switch out names of places for their traditional language place names. It makes Aboriginal people feel seen and heard, and it is a piece of the truth-telling that needs to happen in this country. If we make the time and effort to understand the history and meaning behind Aboriginal languages and places, we can decolonise the way we think and act.
But using Aboriginal language to fit a trending aesthetic dismisses the 65,000 years of history and the depth of Aboriginal cultures, languages and practices.
Decolonise the status quo
As an Aboriginal social enterprise operating on Wurundjeri Country, it’s important that we educate ourselves and learn about the local language and history.
With permission and guidance from Wurundjeri people, we embrace and celebrate Woiwurrung language.
You will find the word “Wominjeka” in lights above the counter at our flagship store in Brunswick. (“Womin” means “to come”, “dji” means “I’m asking you to come” and “ka” means “purpose” – so “come with purpose”.)
We created a series of educational videos about Woiwurrung language with Mandy Nicholson, a Wurundjeri-willam artist and traditional custodian of what is now Melbourne and surrounds.
These videos answer frequently asked questions about Woiwurrung language and how cultural knowledge is embedded in language.
If you are a person living on or visiting Wurundjeri Country, we strongly encourage you to engage with these resources we are fortunate to have.
We all live on unceded Aboriginal lands and we have a responsibility to honour this Country. Educating ourselves about Country and language is one way we can do this.
So, ditch Naarmcore
It is not an aesthetic. Instead, support the true custodians of this country by raising awareness of our campaigns and causes – and spend your time celebrating Blak business.
It always was, always will be Aboriginal land.