Every time I see this woman on the screen, she gets more and more gorgeous…
Lupita Nyong’o is out and everyone is loving her! Having watched 12 years a slave and seen her fashion sense, it would be hard not to fall in love. She seems to be a woman worthy of the love she is receiving. And she probably is…so what’s problem?
I have different opinions about Lupita’s time in the spotlight and I will do my best to put them together coherently. As an African woman, I am proud to see Lupita on the screen. For me, my pride abounds because she is not just black (an identity I am still trying to make peace with), African American or African, born and raised in America. She is African, born in Mexico but raised in Kenya, did college in America. In fact, Lupita IS me (except for the Mexico part lol), and the excitement of that is triple fold.
But what are the few things that worry me about Lupita’s new found celebrity status?
Lupita tells an ignorant America and the rest of the world that many of her do not exist. And not in terms of talent, but in terms of the beauty she displays as an African woman, her dark skin and short kinky hair. But these women do exist! I grew up with them and in fact, I once rocked that short hair for six years in boarding school! Granted, mine was not a choice like Lupita’s fashionable hairdo, and I probably did not pull it off as good as she does. But, it is important for us to remind people, Americans and any others that this kind of beauty has always been around and it’s here to stay.
My other point surrounding this issue is more of a fear. Nigeria as a country and, from my experience, Africa as a continent is one that has been exalted very much on beauty being determined in extremes. For instance, to the West we are never really beautiful with our jagged landscapes and bustling urban city centers that may boast of hawkers for corn, chips etc. Because we can never be as “developed” as they are. Rather, we are beautiful and exotic for our roaring lions and breathtaking safaris. In this same manner, I see a trend being set for Africans being exalted for a beauty that is in extremes. Nowadays, you hear the phrases #teamlightskin and so on coming from Nigerians. We think being fairer is being more beautiful, and Lupita’s image combats that. BUT, what her image does to the outside world looking in is another story. Lupita’s blackness, darkness, whichever you choose to call it seems to slowly threaten Africans as the new standard of beauty for us.
Now, to be truly beautiful, you have to revel in your complete “Africanness” for Americans and sometimes others. Don’t be in between, be dark. Don’t wear weaves or braids, carry it kinky. No, I am not pulling these conclusions out of my behind. Recently, I got caught up on a new show: Africa’s Next Top Model, which is just the African version of America’s Next Top Model. Aside, from the fact that it’s disturbing to replace a country (America) with a continent (Africa), I noticed something else that ruffled my feathers.
In choosing the winner of the show, I noticed the judges’ inclination to choose women who look more and more like Alek Wek, Lupita and other dark skinned beauties. You see, the other in between or possibly lighter skinned women were just not the “right” kind of beauty that stood out in that sharp cutting “African” manner. This was my interpretation and people can feel free to disagree. The point I am trying to make is that Lupita is drop dead gorgeous but no, she is not the “real” or “proper” African in terms of beauty, and I hope the world does not place her beauty as the standard for all Africans. Because then, the rest of us are going to just be left in-between.
P.S: Gosh her fashion is on point though!