If you couldn’t relate to Hollywood’s latest “IT” girl Lupita Nyong’o before, she may just be your new “best friend in your head” after watching her deliver this extremely heartfelt speech on her journey to self-love in the video below. A few weeks ago, the Academy Award winner was given the Best Breakthrough Performance Award for her role in “12 Years a Slave” at Essence Magazine’s 7th annual Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon. Lupita accepted the award with such an impassioned speech about mainstream beauty standards and how they shaped her perceptions of self-love which pretty much resonated with every Black woman in that audience.
Lupita went on to explain that she received a letter from a dark-skinned girl that chose not to lighten her skin after being inspired by Nyong’o. It also reminded Lupita of how she struggled with her own skin color and how those feelings kept her from feeling beautiful as well, until the presence of a certain celebrity changed all of that for her:
“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.…I got teased and taunted about my skin. My one prayer to God was that I would wake up lighter skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of the mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. Every day I would feel the disappointment of being just as dark as the day before…”
Unfortunately, Lupita’s struggle serves as an important reminder to the consequences that stem from the lack of diversity within mainstream media. Yes, it can be hard to believe in the power of “your beauty” if that beauty continually fails to be recognized by powerful mediums such as the fashion industry and Hollywood.
Check out Lupita’s speech below: