Go onto Google and type in the letter “L”, then “U”, then “P” in its search box, the name “lupita nyong’o” instantly pops up, which helps because I always seem to forget where the apostrophe belongs in her last name. Lupita Nyong’o is a Yale graduate, actress and should-be model! She has been what everyone has been talking about – from celebs, to stylists to viewers at home. The Kenyan beauty came into the scene in her nominated role in 12 Years a Slave and has been owning it since then! Lupita has been making her mark in the fashion industry, constantly and pleasantly surprising everyone with her effortless looks and natural beauty. She has even been featured and has graced the covers of several major magazines such as Dujour, Vogue Italia and Vanity Fair.
Photo: Reuters, Invision, FilmMagic via http://nypost.com/
This is my first post I ever really dedicated to a celebrity. The ones prior to this one are simply because I just had the opportunity to meet them. This time around, it’s different. Though I love Lupita and all her fabulous-ness, it’s not exactly all about her right now. I have some pieces of you in here…some pieces of me in here, too. You see, I wasn’t aware of my skin color until the 8th grade.
You’re probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about. Don’t I see myself in the mirror? Don’t I have eyes… period? The answer to those questions is a simple and obvious “yes”. You’re asking now, “So, what do you mean you weren’t aware of your skin color until the 8th grade?” Well, I mean, I didn’t know skin color played such a big deal in society.
In 8th grade, a guy with a lighter skin tone decided he was going to open his mouth and bless me with his ignorance by calling me “Darky”. He explained to me that I wasn’t “that dark”, but I was just “more brown” than he was, as if that justified the little nickname he gave me. Later on, I found out that he had the biggest crush on me. I guess the little nick name he pegged me was supposed to be a gesture of love? Shaking. My. Head. Right?
That still didn’t change the fact that when I went home after middle school, I didn’t see myself the same. I didn’t struggle with low self-esteem, I knew I was beautiful and it wasn’t because my parents told me…TRUST 😉 But, I did start to notice that the women on television, magazines, billboards and all of that…they just didn’t look like me. We have celebrities of lighter tones and the darker ones bleaching their skin to be in the limelight. We are taught that the lighter shade is more preferable and media surely doesn’t help. I was thrown into the world of “light skin is in”. After I graduated middle school and on, I started hearing heated arguments of “Light Skin vs Dark Skin”. Oh, and excuse me, I mustn’t forget: there’s a “Light Skin vs. Brown Skin vs Dark Skin” debate going on, too. THE MOST CRAZIEST PART IS: it is not the Caucasian community helping inflict self- hate – it is the African-American community! Even with Black History Month here! It amazes me how we have come this far and we are arguing over menial, dismissive topics such as skin color.
You know what? I’m going to tell you of the most ignorant things I have heard in the year of 2014 (mind you, it just began). My cousin comes over and tells me of school drama that happened that day. They had a substitute in Math class, so they decided to do what they wanted to, which was obnoxiously listen to music and glide through Instagram and Facebook. Typical. A girl (we’ll call her Girl A) stops scrolling and points out how amazing another girl pictured on Facebook looked. She later explains that the cause of why the girl appears so beautiful is due to the simple fact that she is “light skinned”. This begins a whole argument in class, which gets worse when Girl A says that lighter skin is better because “back in the day”, they would have been in the house with their “mulatto babies” whereas darker skin would be out in the fields. Girl B refutes, “Well, you still would have been a slave and the master’s wife would have hated you”.
There are millions of girls out there with low self-esteem. The pigmentation of one’s skin is one more of the things that they are struggling to accept. Pointless fights like these makes it even harder to deal with in a society that promotes the European standard of beauty. I don’t know. It must be my eyes but last time I checked, “Black” is marked as the race of light and dark skin. There wasn’t a box for the 50 Shades of Black. But, we’re over here arguing over color. Shaking. My. Head. Again and again and again.
But, let me wrap this up…
Ya know, in a way, I thank my school mate for opening my eyes. I get to treasure the bold colors of women like singer Kelly Rowland, model Tika Sumpter, and actress Nia Long, to name a few. Now, we all have Lupita Nyong’o (YES! I got the last name right without even looking it up).
And, so, thank you, Lupita, for not altering your appearance to be what society has already donned as beautiful. Your love for yourself is inspiring. You unabashedly exuberate confidence and poise – I have a smile of radiant hope reserved for even just looking at you.
Look at her, isn’t she gorgeous?
Also, I want to hear from you! Tell me who inspires you despite society’s norms. They don’t have to be Black! Haha. Or, just let me know what you thought of this post. Thanks for reading!