Captivating audiences with her performance in “12 Years a Slave,” winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, landing a contract with Lancome, and named People’s Most Beautiful Person of 2014, Lupita Nyong’o is being hailed as Hollywood’s new “It” girl. Nyong’o is also redefining the Hollywood standard of beauty.

 

Lupita Nyong’o has captured the hearts of millions of Americans (afrolistsandthecity.com)

Nyong’o was born in Mexico to Kenyan parents and shortly thereafter moved to Kenya, where she grew up. Nyong’o remembers growing up and only seeing pale skinned people in the media. She also remembers how these images affected her own self-image, saying,

 

 

“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 my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned.”

 

Being named “Most Beautiful” is the realization of a dream that Nyong’o could have never imagined in a world where beauty is defined by the images we see and consume everyday. In Nyong’o’s case, these images did not match what she saw in the mirror, and the under-representation of black women in popular culture led her to believe she was not beautiful.

 

The images portrayed in the media lead many women to believe there is a definition or standard for what constitutes beauty. They are also led to believe that, as a woman, the only way to get attention is to exploit their sexuality. This is another societal beauty standard that Nyong’o breaks. She has proved it is possible to make your way to the top while being modest and not overly sexualized. Some say that Nyong’o lacks sex appeal, but in reality, she exudes a different type of sex appeal. Nyong’o is beautiful because she does not fit the mold of the quintessential fair blonde beauty. She is sexy because she is smart, unique, modest, and her skin is wonderfully dark and radiant.

 

The images portrayed by Hollywood are nearly impossible to ignore, no matter how hard one tries. This is why it is important that there is diversity in the media and in popular culture, and it is equally important viewers see people that do not look like them, as well.

 

The message that Nyong’o emulates is that there needs to be people of all shapes, sizes, and color portrayed in the media. As a result, people will hopefully realize that there is no way to strictly define beauty, and society will learn to accept those who are different from themselves.

 

What do you think of Lupita Nyong’o as Hollywoods new “It” girl? Let me know in the comments below or find me on Twitter @whatsthesich