“You can’t eat beauty
It doesn’t feed you”
-Lupita Nyongo’s mother
The world became aware of Lupita Nyongo in her break out Academy Award winning role as a slave named Patsey in “12 Years a Slave.” But it was her Essence award acceptance speech that really defined what Lupita has come to represent for women of color everywhere. When she shared the letter she received a letter from a young Black girl struggling with the perceived burden of her dark skin, Lupita was prompted to share her own experience being taunted and harassed because of her dark skin. She spoke of the self-hate that lead to destructive aspirations to lighten her skin as well as her journey toward self- acceptance with help from words of affirmation from Oprah, her mother’s love and compassion and the emergence of the dark-skinned model, Alek Wek.
This was an unforgettable, timely and touching moment in history, a moment when dark-skinned Black women watching everywhere were joined in the validation of their own struggles with colorism and also in gratitude to Lupita’s fearless, loving and beautiful testament to truth about beauty. Wherever she appears in print gracing fashion magazine covers and larger than life Lancome ads or on screen, lively, intelligent and sparkling with joy and curiosity, Lupita represents to young black girls and Black women alike what Alek Wek once did for her. The beauty of self acceptance that exists within is what illuminates what we see on the outside and no shade of Black, Brown or shades in between should ever be exempt from the definition of beauty.