Both Lupita Nyong'o and Beyonce Knowles have been described as "Stunning"
Academy Award nominee Lupita Nyong'o was given the Best Breakthrough Performance Award for her role in “12 Years a Slave,” Thursday, February 27, at the Essence’s 7th annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon.
According to the New York Daily News, Lupita shared a letter written to her by a young girl who saw her as a role model.
The letter reads:
“‘Dear Lupita, I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.”
Lupita said her heart bled a little when she read those words, because she also struggled with accepting her dark skin when she was a young girl.
Nyong’o recalled how she got “teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin,” and how she would ask God to lighten her skin.
She said that her “self-hate grew worse” when she became a teenager, and despite her mother’s assurances that she was beautiful, it was not until she discovered supermodel Alek Wek, who is dark skinned as she is and who was described by Oprah Winfrey as beautiful, that she began to like herself.
She went on:
“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.”
“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 shame in black beauty.”
Negative images of blackness that have been drummed into black people by whites during and after slavery continue to have a devastating psychological and material impact on black people.
However, today, many of the "gatekeepers of beauty" in show business and music are blacks. And some enforce anti-black standards of beauty more enthusiastically than whites. Light skin now seems to trump talent as the main criterion for success in music and theater. Many of the celebrated dark skinned singers of the past, such as Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba would not make it past todays black "gatekeepers of beauty."
The preference for "light skin" among black people is not without consequences. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the widespread use of skin lighteners and avoidance of sunlight, particularly among those living in the northern hemisphere, may cause many ailments, including autoimmune diseases and cancers prevalent among blacks.
Ironically, most of the people who initially affirmed Lupita's beauty are white. It is as if, having encouraged black to be white look alikes over the years, some whites are now nauseated by the extremes to which some blacks have taken their encouragement to "whiten" themselves through surgery and with cancer causing skin lighteners. So they embrace the naturalness of black beauties like Alek and Lupita.
Naturally, as if they have been given permission by whites, some blacks are beginning to acknowledge and affirm Lupita's beauty.
So Lupita is the belle de jour and many are drawn to the beauty of her black skin.
Unknown until she landed the role of Patsey in Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave," the Yale School of Drama graduate, who was born in Mexico and raised in Kenya, is now a global fashion icon.
As reported by Shelia McClear in the New York Daily News, fashionista Teri Agins noted:
"Nyong’o’s dark skin means she can play with color in ways that people with light skin can’t...Her skin is a perfect canvas; you can put anything against it.”
And Lloyd Boston, style commentator and author of “The Style Checklist noted:.
“Attitude, posture, confidence. She has it naturally,”...“True style power is in restraint,... “when you let your skin take center stage. She’s the fresh girl.”
Nicole Vecchiarelli, editor-in-chief of DuJour mag, which put Nyong’o on the cover noted:
“She (is) so poised and so beautiful and so articulate and serene.”
The accolades are in for Lupita, we hope she wears them well.