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7 Nov

Lupita Nyong’o Continues to Redefine Standards of Beauty

Oscar winner, Yale graduate, and “Woman of the Year,” Lupita Nyong’o covers Glamour Magazine’s December issue. I must say, I am very impressed with her interview. Editors at Glamour could have taken the easy route and focused only on Lupita’s life as the new fashion industry muse or who she’s dating or her next role. Instead, they provided a platform for her to continue dialogue about our current standards of beauty and how she is slowly redefining how we see it!

Playwright Eve Ensler refers to Lupita Nyong’o as “one of the great talents and spirits of our time, at the beginning of an extraordinary journey,’ and we couldn’t agree more. Lupita’s role in 12 Years a Slave led to her win the Breakthrough Performance Award at the annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. More importantly, as she humbly accepted her award, the speech that followed is so moving that it will forever touch my heart:

{Excerpt} “When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty, but around me the preference for light skin prevailed. To the beholders that I thought mattered, I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me, “You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you.” And these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.

And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade in that beauty.”

~ Lupita Nyong’o

Check out a few highlights from Lupita’s Glamour interview:

GLAMOUR: In more than eight decades of the Academy Awards, only seven black women have won an acting Oscar. What was your reaction to being one of them?
LN: It’s exciting and humbling.

GLAMOUR: You’ve become a role model for many girls—black girls in particular. Who were your role models, growing up?
LN: Oprah played a big role in my understanding of what it meant to be female and to really step into your own power. I wouldn’t even call her a role model; she was literally a reference point. You have the dictionary, you have the Bible, you have Oprah.

GLAMOUR: Do you feel a responsibility to young women out there?
LN: I feel a responsibility to myself and my parents and the people whose love has gotten me this far—people who were in my life before fame. That’s where I get my sense of self. It’s deadly for anyone to take on that role of a deity; it’s not sustainable. I’ve got tons of flaws. Call my mother—she’ll tell you! She keeps it real. Sometimes you don’t want to hear the truth; she’ll tell it to you out of love.

GLAMOUR: You’ve received lots of attention for your looks. Did you grow up feeling beautiful?
LN: European standards of beauty are something that plague the entire world—the idea that darker skin is not beautiful, that light skin is the key to success and love. Africa is no exception. When I was in the second grade, one of my teachers said, “Where are you going to find a husband? How are you going to find someone darker than you?” I was mortified. I remember seeing a commercial where a woman goes for an interview and doesn’t get the job. Then she puts a cream on her face to lighten her skin, and she gets the job! This is the message: that dark skin is unacceptable. I definitely wasn’t hearing this from my immediate family—my mother never said anything to that effect—but the voices from the television are usually much louder than the voices of your parents.

GLAMOUR: So how did you get over believing that?
LN: I come from a loving, supportive family, and my mother taught me that there are more valuable ways to achieve beauty than just through your external features. She was focused on compassion and respect, and those are the things that ended up translating to me as beauty. Beautiful people have many advantages, but so do friendly people…. I think beauty is an expression of love.

Interview Excerpts and Images via Glamour Magazine

Click any image to view gallery

Melanin Queen
Melanin Queen

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