Crayola’s Multicultural Crayons Still Missing Diversity

A few days ago, as I was scrolling through Buzzfeed articles, it came to my attention that Crayola makes “Multicultural Crayons,” or crayons that can be used to accurately represent the skin tones of people of color. At first I was extremely excited by the headline. I thought back to when I was a kid, drawing pictures in kindergarten, never knowing which crayons to use to color myself. Was I the yellow crayon? The peach crayon? The white one? There never was the perfect crayon for my skin tone.

I instantly looked up the crayons, excited to see what shades they would offer. However, I was immediately disappointed. Still, there were no shades I felt accurately represented my skin tone as someone of Asian descent.

Crayola states on their website that the purpose of their multicultural crayons is to bring “more diversity to art projects.” However, on the cover of the crayon box, which displays the “diverse” skin tones the crayons represent, there is no Asian child. I find it unreasonable that Crayola expects the eight colors in the box to “represent skin tones around the world” when the colors included do not take into consideration the skin tones of the Asian community.

The colors in the box are: apricot, black, burnt sienna, mahogany, peach, sepia, tan, and white. These colors sound good to me on paper, but after looking at the actual crayons, I still find myself unsure about which crayon which would best represent me. The colors are largely divided into “light” and “dark” while ignoring those who lie in between.

In addition, rather than creating new crayons that are better suited to represent skin tones, Crayola has simply taken already existing colors in their original collection and repacked them as multicultural. It almost seems as if Crayola is taking advantage of the success of diversity oriented campaigns in order to brand themselves as more inclusive while also making more money.

What surprises me most is that even though Crayola’s Multicultural Crayons have been around since 1992, they have not expanded their assortment of crayons. Still, Crayola expects that people around are represented by only eight skin tones. Although it may seem ridiculous for a crayon brand to come out with 50 shades for skin tones, as makeup company Fenty Beauty did in releasing 50 foundation shades, perhaps it is necessary. Representation is extremely important to making someone feel included and accepted. Perhaps something as simple as finding a crayon that accurately depicts you can make all the difference in helping you feel confident in your identity.

Photo by Nathan Gibbs