The Beauty of Brown: How Art Taught Me to Love the Color of My Skin

Like many people, when I was younger, I did not like the darkness of my skin. To be honest, I hated having brown skin. I went out of my way to find different descriptors, called my skin “copper”, and didn’t go out in the sun. Brown was a poop-y color I might’ve explained to you as a middle schooler. I didn’t want to be brown.

Recently, I purchased a set of 10 colored felt tip pens. I remember being disappointed, opening the set to discover that it contained the color brown, but not purple. What was this brown marker doing in this beautiful rainbow set? And where was the purple?! As I continued using this set of markers, my initial disappointment gave way to a moment of personal growth.

I realized part of the reason that I was upset about this brown marker is because of my long-embedded dislike for the color. Confronting this frustration head-on was an opportunity to reconcile with a part of my identity. I started using my long-neglected brown marker. I began to appreciate the color, its depth, its beauty. The color was dark enough to be neutral, but it wasn’t black or blue, so it still registered as an interesting color. It served as a subtle highlight in notes. It was pleasing, I noticed. Calming and rich.

[Read Related: Your Natural Skin is Beautiful: Conquering Colorism in the South Asian Community]

My exercise in using a brown marker expanded my appreciation for a color which informed an expanded appreciation of myself and my appearance. I soon began to collect brown writing implements and craft supplies – I got myself brown crayola markers, brown ballpoint pens, brown crayons and colored pencils, brown paint, brown scrapbook paper. I reveled in my new found love for a color that means so much to me, a color that describes who I am. Everyone has their own way of learning to love the immutable parts of themselves. Experiencing my skin color through something I love, crafting and writing, was a lovely reminder of how the smallest actions and perspectives can have an important impact on how we see ourselves and the world around us.

By Ramya Ravindrababu

Ramya Ravindrababu currently lives in her hometown of Boston, MA but is looking forward to an upcoming move to Kentucky … Read more ›