When we think about beauty and its meaning, it is unfortunate that many turn solely to the media for advice. Often times, generic images of highly photoshopped, pale, and thin women are the first to pop up, making those of us who do not fit that mold feel inadequate.
As if we could love Lupita Nyong’o anymore, the Oscar winning actress had plenty to say on the subject of beauty and acceptance at Essence’s recent Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. Despite the fact that everyone has done nothing but rave about the 12 Years a Slave starlet, Nyong’o voiced a certain side of her the public has never seen before. From her beauty, fashion, endorsements, and success it might seem that she has never struggled with feeling “unbeautiful” or “indequate”. However, we soon learned that this was very wrong.
Lupita opened up her speech at the luncheon by explaining that she had received a letter from a young girl – who had a similarly dark complexion – that had decided not to lighten her skin after being inspired by Nyong’o herself. Not only had this humbled the actress but also reminded her of a similar time in her adolescence when she was at an intersection between race and beauty. Explaining how she suffered from self-hatred and a lack of self-esteem, she soon became inspired by world-renowned model, Alek Wek, a dark-skinned beauty that had the world in awe:
“I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin… And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no conservation, she’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then…Alek Wek. 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. 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.”
The reasons for how and why this speech is so powerful are endless. Oftentimes, celebrities and their lifestyles seem far and unattainable, while their disposition can come off as insincere. Here Lupita opens up truly and discusses a topic that so many males and females both struggle with. This lack of self-esteem can lead to acting on extreme measures ranging from skin bleaching to eating disorders and even severe depression. Lupita reiterates the importance of having self worth to be truly healthful. The benefits are endless.
Read the rest of the article on Essence to be inspired by Nyong’o’s strong words of wisdom.
How is your self-esteem?
Image via BET