What Lupita Nyong'o Taught Us About Self-Love and Acceptance
“Be Yourself.” You’ve heard that before, it’s cliché, often spoken without a second thought, and usually said as a reflexive retort to ease some perceived discomfort. Yet, it’s powerful to see it in action. Not only is it an act of courage, it also inspires others to do the same. Thus, when Lupita Nyong’o stepped onto the scene, we took notice. How could we ignore a woman who walked confidently and with a knowing that who she is radiated beauty and power and deserved recognition?
Here was a black woman in Hollywood who dared to be her beautiful, short-kinky haired self. I’m optimistically declaring that natural hair’s current popularity symbolizes a shift towards self-acceptance in the black community. Yet, it’s still not the norm, and it’s definitely not the norm in Hollywood where societal notions and standards of beauty reign supreme. Knowing the Hollywood beauty mold, Lupita could have chosen to attempt to fit that mold (as much as black women can fit a mold that doesn’t acknowledge them). Yet she showed up as herself, knowing and showing that that is enough.
Lupita acknowledges that her journey to self-acceptance wasn’t easy. It included prayers to God to be a lighter shade of brown. As a young woman she learned that the way God created her did not fit man's definition of beautiful. This is until she discovered Alek Wek who became her source of inspiration. In Alek, she saw a chocolate-hued sista, much like herself, bravely rock her God-given beauty. Alek gave Lupita the courage to do the same.
Likewise, Lupita inspires us to be beautiful. Her decision and choice to validate herself shows us how to embrace who we are and what we look like. Instead of bending herself into something she was not to fit a mold, she created a space for her unique beauty. There is no becoming beautiful. We are already beautiful. It is up to us to validate ourselves spiritually, physically and emotionally. Why not begin today?