Who is Karamo Brown? There’s many powerful ways we could answer this question, including to honor his success as a TV personality, writer, activist, and producer. Alternatively, we could use his personal identities, which include being a father to two boys, soon-to-be-husband (he’s engaged to long-time partner, Ian Brown), and social worker.
Or, we could list his accolades to date, including his appearances on hit shows like The Real World: Philadelphia, The Princess Diaries, Dancing with the Stars, and Netflix’s award-winning TV series Queer Eye.
If you’re anything like me, you’re in awe of Karamo, because he traversed a complicated childhood that involved abuse of his mother by his father, homophobia, and confusing religious messages. Despite these challenges, Karamo has risen from to epic levels of stardom—perhaps most notably, as Netflix’s resident “Culture Expert” on the Queer Eye reboot.
Karamo Brown’s Childhood
Karamo’s early childhood was filled with aggression and abuse. Sadly, from an early age, he watched his father beat his mother. This experience was hard for young Karamo to comprehend.
Given the confusing impact of this parental modelling, Karamo went on to experience anger management and drug abuse issues. These issues emerged in full force when he was cast on the MTV series The Real World: Philadelphia.
Being on The Real World was a difficult and dark time for Karamo, as the show was filled with booze, drugs, social pressure, unhealthy relationships, sex, and a lack of personal space.
In the years after this TV excursion, Karamo received a subpoena for child support on his doorstep. Shocked and surprised, Karamo went on to learn that his one and only girlfriend from high school had become pregnant with his child when he was only 15. As a result of family pressures, she moved away and didn’t reveal news of the pregnancy to Karamo.
After travelling across the country to meet his son, Jason, Karamo made a life-changing decision. He decided to pack up his bags and move to Texas to become a full-time dad. In 2011, he took fatherhood a step further by adopting his son’s younger half-brother, Christian, as well. Today, Jason is 22 and Chris 20 years old.
Prompted by the responsibilities of fatherhood, Karamo sought out help for his drug abuse and entered anger management classes. As Karamo “turned a corner” and embraced this healthy path, he chose to pursue a social work degree.
Today, Karamo is an incredible example of how early trauma can be transformed and transmuted into positive, empowering experiences—if you do the work.
Inside the Mind of Karamo Brown
Karamo Brown is Queer Eye’s trusty culture expert. As such, he engages the show’s heroes in important conversations about transforming their mindset (inner world) and their relationship to others (outer world).
If you’re anything like me, you likely find yourself tearing up regularly when Karamo enters the stage. This is because he has an uncanny capacity to get to the “core” of a person. This capacity earned him an the nickname “Karoprah” (a blend of Karamo and Oprah) from his co-star Bobby Berk.
Would you like to learn from Karamo, who has studied anger management, is a Licensed Social Worker (LSW), and now provides globally syndicated “life advice” on Netflix’s Queer Eye?
Exactly, me too.
There’s a reason why hashtags like “#KaramoBrownIsMyLifeCoach” have gained traction on Instagram.
Below are 7 of Karamo’s most empowering tips on how to transform yourself, inside and out.
1. Stop “Coming Out” And Start “Letting People In”
Karamo made the term “coming out” take a complete 180 degree turn. Instead, he says he uses the term “letting people in”.
According to Karamo Brown, using the traditional term gives the power to the listener to deny or accept him.
This way of looking at letting people in is also a great way to set boundaries for other people. It means deciding when and how you want to let people in.
It’s a way of interacting with the people you love in a way that is empowering and invigorating.
And remember, “letting people in” doesn’t have to be about your sexuality or gender. It can be about sharing any aspect of yourself that feels authentic and right to you.
2. Comparison Is the Thief of Joy
Though it’s an adage, this remains as one of the best Queer Eye quotes. Karamo loves to say that comparison is the thief of joy, because it is. He wants you to stay focused on your unique style, your unique needs, or your unique journey.
Don’t look at another person’s travel itinerary and wish you can go to the same places or events. Don’t look at a person’s wardrobe because they created it to fit them and their style, not yours. Instead, use Tan France’s top fashion tips to find out how you can customize your wardrobe to fit you.
Stop aiming for others’ finish lines. Instead, look ahead and think about reaching yours.
Take prolific action in pursuit of your goals, while keeping your eyes on “your lane” instead of someone else’s.
3. Evaluate Your Tribe
You have to assess your tribe, Karamo Brown said. He advises to shut off and move away from people who force negativity into your life.
It’s solid advice for dealing with people, because scientists have found that negativity is as contagious, if not more so, than other communicable diseases.
This is why Karamo wants you to include it in the simplest of habits and lifestyle choices.
For example, you have friends who influence your mental health. If you surround yourself with negative people, it’s going to give you a negative effect as well. It may be unhappiness, jealousy, or other toxic emotions.
Karmo recommends that you limit your time with these people and start surrounding yourself with positive people.
4. Make 1% Improvements Every Day
Karamo says that it’s easy for us to forget that what we practice every day plays a part in our behavior. If you often let negative thoughts consume you, you can become what you think you are.
If you think daily thoughts like your hair is ugly, you’re a terrible mom, or that you’ll never be fit, it will dramatically affect your self worth over time.
The good news, he believes, is that you don’t need to do a lot to change this mindset. All you need is to practice changing yourself 1 percent each day. It can be by telling yourself a positive statement in the mirror each morning.
Once you start practicing this, the statements can become your truth. Take Tom Jackson from the first Queer Eye episode. While he started with the mindset that he was “ugly,” he’s undergone a big transformation and has even found love again.
5. Strong People Ask for Help
Karamo believes that there are three steps to achieving your goals. “Plan. Do. Ask for help if needed,” he says.
You’ll notice that the best Queer Eye episodes are when the guests are willing to open up and ask for help.
This can happen for you as well. Remember, some people around you are willing to help you in surprising ways, even strangers. Don’t let your belief that you can do it alone blindside you from the family and friends you have.
Most people have more allies in their life than they realize.
One way to know when you need help is when you start feeling anxious about not knowing what to do. If you are having trouble implementing your plan, call a friend and ask for their help.
More often than not, a trusted friend can help you through any roadblock.
6. Don’t Believe Everything You Think
Indeed, negative events have a greater impact on our brains than positive ones. This is because of the negativity bias that’s wired to human nature.
While it initially helped us to survive in harsh environments, today it means we’re overly prone to remembering terrible words people say. It also means we may fear how they may perceive us.
Understandably, too much negativity can affect how you see yourself and how you act in front of others.
Let’s look at episode eight, the one with US veteran Brandonn Mixon, as an example. There, we can see how much his negativity blindsided him to the limits he was placing upon himself. It led to a lot of unnecessary pressure he put upon himself, failed projects, and shame.
If you feel something negative about yourself, realize it may be a story your mind has made up over time. Notice and tune into experiences in your life that may contrast (or even destroy) that belief.
If these ways of thinking are deeply ingrained, seek out professional help to help shift it faster.
7. Practice Being Kind to Yourself
For the last of our Queer Eye tips, be kind to yourself.
This tip ties into being less negative and looking at yourself from a positive angle instead. Karamo wants you to treat yourself better by being kinder and believing in yourself. That includes your outlook on life and how you see yourself.
It also includes little things, like your lifestyle, diet, and exercise routine. You can start small by looking up tips for eating healthy or finding clothes that help you feel confident.
This tip also applies to your self talk. Be kind, think kind, and talk to yourself in kind ways.
As Karamo reminds us, your relationship with yourself is your most important relationship of all.
The Untold Truth of Karamo Brown
As our resident culture expert says, they do “make-betters,” not “makeovers.” They don’t want you to look in the mirror and see a person who has a lot of wrong aspects. The Fab Five want their guests and you to see people who can improve.
As the culture expert on Queer Eye, Karamo Brown has life-changing tips to lead a happier life.
If you enjoyed reading this guide, find more by exploring the blog or reach out to me here.
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