When Lupita Nyong’o accepted her award for the “Best Breakthrough Performance ” at ESSENCE’s 7th annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon the young starlet said something that resonated with me. The Academy Award nominee told the crowd filled with movers and shakers in Hollywood that,” There is no shame in Black beauty.” I couldn’t agree more.
The Yale graduate is now comfortable in her beautiful dark brown skin, but there was a point in her life she didn’t see beauty when she looked in the mirror. This is a story I’ve heard far too many times in the black community. It’s a story I can also relate too. It wasn’t until recently in my adult life that I started to LOVE who I am and how GOD made me. My mom and other family members always told me I was pretty, but I didn’t always see me as the standard of beauty.
Mainstream’s definition of beauty didn’t look like me and it still doesn’t, but I’ve embraced me and I love me just the way I am.
Unfortunately beauty in our society doesn’t celebrate deep dark brown skin, curvy shapes, or kinky hair. I think it’s critical for little girls growing up to see women how look like them being celebrated. Its important we celebrate the true beauty of black women of every skin tone.
Lupita said it was Alek Wek who helped her recognize her own beauty.“A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was,” “Nyong’o said. “Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t.”
“When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny,” she added. “Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty.”
Like Alek Wek inspired Lupita, this break out actress will inspire other girls who are battling with loving their own skin .
Lupita concluded her moving speech by saying, “There is no shame in black beauty.”
Thank you Lupita for sharing your story and representing black women with class and style. We are very proud.
You can read all of Lupita’s speech over at ESSENCE.com