Musings

LUPITA NYONG’O: A BEACON OF BLACK BEAUTY

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The buzz around Lupita Nyong’o, rising star of 12 Years A Slave, has reached fever pitch. The media (almost unanimously) are lauding this smart (Yale graduate), talented (Oscar nominated), beauty (have you seen her face?). Could it be they’ve grown weary of documenting cookie cutter untalented folk? Is Lupita spawning a ‘new wave’ of beauty ideals that doesn’t require an overtly sexualised look? Whatever is happening, one thing is clear, she is the media’s new golden girl.

Talk show hosts are won over by her joie de vivre and clear passion for her work.

She is the fashion world’s new fixation. That red Ralph Lauren caped gown? Need I say more.

On the beauty front, there has been much talk around her shorn hair, perfectly formed athletic body and flawless dark skin.

There are very few dark skinned women in the media talkless of dark skinned women deemed beautiful in the media. I hope that Lupita fever does indeed spark  a reassess of beauty paradigms and I am referring specifically to the ‘light is better’ ideal.

The bleaching pandemic that has plagued so many corners of the globe (Japan to India to Nigeria) for centuries, continues to be a reality. I remember being in a hair shop in Shepherd’s Bush and being slightly taken aback on sighting a Japanese produced nipple bleaching cream; and more recently being in Paks in Finsbury Park, where I was confronted by a whole aisle of skin lightening products.

The fact that Slumdog Millionaire actress, Freida Pinto was not considered a beauty in her native India because she was too dark is evidence of this enduring ‘white is right’ notion, demonstrated quite dramatically in the famous Clarks’ doll experiments.

The sooner we dispense with colourism the better and if this current Lupita obsession contributes in some small way to that, then that can only be a good thing.

Images from Because I Am Fabulous, Splash, Touch Puppet, Celeb Bitchy, The Non Blonde and Glamour

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