Dark Girls Need Inspiration Too

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By April Taylor

Lupita Nyong’o recently rose to stardom as an actress in the movie 12 Years A Slave for which she won a nomination for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.  The 30-year old was awarded by the Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice Awards as well.  Before her role in 12 Years a Slave, she earned a film and African studies degree from Hampshire College and also attended the Yale School of Drama.

In addition to being acknowledged for her on screen talent, the fashion world has also taken notice of the Mexican-born, Kenyan’s unique style and beauty.  In a recent article on The Grio, Sally Singer, a creative director of digital at Vogue, praised Nyong’o’s fashion choices as, “directional, gorgeous, and always surprising yet entirely appropriate.”  The fact that there are very few black women in Hollywood who look like Nyong’o makes her rapid success within the fashion world even more unique.  Hollywood and the fashion world have not been known to be overly welcoming to dark skinned women, and for this reason, Nyong’o represents something unique as a dark skinned woman who is self assured and projects a healthy sense of esteem.

Kelly Carter, an Emmy-award winning entertainment journalist, stated in The Grio article that she is hoping that Nyong’o’s recent success is an indication that the fashion world has opened itself up to redefining beauty in a broader sense than past definitions.  Carter indicated that it would not surprise her if Nyong’o was asked to appear on the cover of Vogue as well as other magazine covers due to the recent intrigue regarding her unique beauty.

While much of the reaction has been positive, some are wondering  how long lasting the effect of dark skinned women being viewed as beautiful will really last.  Dr. Yaba Blay, who speaks about colorism and global skin color politics, feels that the recent progress within the fashion world may not necessarily transfer to forward progress in how the mainstream media portrays or views dark skinned women.  Let’s hope that the success does lead to lasting changes, and in the meantime, let’s embrace the fact that Nyong’o is a shining example of why dark skinned women everywhere should feel pride and confidence in their beauty.