No this isn’t a makeup post but I do love me some ColourPop cosmetics (Another post for another day) but today I’m talking about brown girls wearing bright colours.

Of all the offensive things I’ve heard people say about my skin colour, perhaps the least offensive one has to be “bright colours look great on girls of your complexion”. Although this phrase is still a bit absurd, like why is that really something you need to say? I can’t help but agree. Brown girls can pull off any colour but especially bright colours. The contrast between our skin and brightness of the garment complements each other so well that even I’m like “damn girl, my skin is popping in this mustard knit”! But I didn’t always feel this way because I’ve also heard things like “that colour is a bit too bright for you”. For years I was conscious of the colours I would wear. I even went through an ‘all black’ phase at varsity just to avoid any comments about my skin colour. It got so bad that my very Indian mother once asked me “are you doing that gothic thing now?”. Needless to say, my parents went into panic mode and started enforcing stricter rules on me; open bedroom door, no more eye-pencil etc. They even offered me therapy. For an Indian kid, that was a shocker. Therapy wasn’t really something we would openly advocate, if at all.

So what changed? 

Well, I grew bored. Bored of black. Bored of navy. Bored of grey. I craved change. Both in my mental state and physical life. I was so consumed by what people thought of my brown skin and what they deemed appropriate for dark girls to wear that I was missing out on enjoying vibrant coloured hair, clothing, shoes and makeup. I was allowing a specific group of people to affect my personality. Essentially, the ‘all black errthang’, made me tone down who I was. I wasn’t sociable. I always felt out of place. I was depressed. I was basically a loud girl in a mute outfit.

My mum became so desperate to help me celebrate my skin tone and to see the beauty in it that she went shopping on my behalf and bought me only the brightest garments she could find. Mums know best. She helped me rediscover myself and she began to fuel my love for  clothes because it began making me feel good about myself and life. She removed the superficial stigma sometimes attached to shopping and fashion and she exposed the depth that exists in the relationship between a garment and the person wearing it. It doesn’t always have to be cashmere or couture. It could be a simple knit that changes the way you feel. I appreciate my mum for always trying to shield me from negative comments and helping me see beyond  what I was being told was right for me, even though I wasn’t always as receptive to her wisdom.

Is there a better time than now for brown girls in fashion?

Brown skin has never been more celebrated than it is now. Hopefully some of the Indians will get on board and stop dragging their kids out of the sun. LET THEM ENJOY THE SUN!

Although there are still some foolish things people say about brown girls and there are so many women and men who believe ridiculous myths about brown skin, I’ve learned that women of colour can pull off any colour. Even mustard!

I’ve learned to stop being offended by certain things people say about my skin colour because if you think about it, the phrase above is actually accurate. Bright colours do look great on my skin. Perspective is everything. It’s pretty easy for us to go all “oh no you didn’t” on a fair-skinned person telling us what works for our skin tone, but it is even more satisfying to just take the positive bit and roll with it.

Trust me, I’ve been the on the other end of the Indian colour spectrum for 26 years and I’ve heard it all. I thought I couldn’t fight it all but perhaps I can, in a positive way. So this post is just one of many ‘colour coded’ posts to come. In the meantime, I suggest you wear the brightest of brights or the nudest of nudes, whenever and wherever you want. No one should dictate what you should wear based on your skin colour. Not ever!


Love & Joy


Top: H&M

Skirt: Style Republic (Spree)

Shoes: The Fix SA

Earrings: Lovisa

     Photos by: Hemisha Bhana Photography