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Lupita Nyong’o has been named People’s Most Beautiful Person. This is such an honor. I remember having the debate about Pharrell blaming people’s insecurities and projecting their delusions because of his choice in women for his album cover. Although personally I’m not bothered by the album cover or the women on it, I couldn’t help but think about Lupita Nyong’o, and her speech at the 7th Annual Essence Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon.

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…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.

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I remember Lupita Nyong’o talking about seeing model Alek Wek for the first time and how Alek’s face on runways and magazines changes Lupita’s concept of beauty. She no longer prays to God to turn her night-shade skin light. It’s in that moment that Lupita realizes that beauty isn’t just white. I take offense to the words “projecting delusions” because there are so many young girls that are underrepresented for whatever reasons especially within our community, but unlike Pharrell, who’s message is to just love the person in the mirror, Lupita understands the larger concept of what it means for young women of color to see Lupita’s face on the cover of People’s 50 Most Beautiful. It teaches girls how to love the person in the mirror:

It was exciting and just a major, major compliment. I was happy for all the girls who would see me on (it) and feel a little more seen…What an incredible journey to go from that feeling to being on the cover of this magazine. I mean, you could have never told me that that would happen when I was 16 and insecure about my complexion.  I hope it means something to more than just me, to people like me who feel un-beautiful in whatever skin they’re in.

Lupita is transcending western standards of beauty, and because of this People cover and title, one more young girl will learn how to love the image she sees in the mirror; her type of beauty won’t be excluded or marginalized inside or outside of her community. She will believe her mother’s words. Instead of telling young women to love the image in the mirror, teach them how to love their reflection by broadening the way we project beauty to them. That way they can see themselves reflected. It isn’t anyone’s responsibility to teach you self-love, but it sure would be nice collectively, if we’re more accountable for the images we project.

Make beauty inclusive and not just with skin-color, but with hair types and body shapes. Lupita Nyong’o congrats!!! This is a win for so many…

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