Lupita Nyong'o's Skin Color Is Not a Trend


When Lupita Nyong’o won Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards this week, her success inspired bunches of style shifts. Perhaps long Hollywood weaves will go out of style because of the actress’ gorgeously cropped hair, maybe her gown’s blue hue will be spring’s hottest new color or maybe we’ll all be wearing headbands with everything because Lupita. But what shouldn’t be up for debate is whether dark skin black women are now more “in style” than lighter skin black women, or vice versa, because skin isn’t a hair cut or an accessory.

Jenee Desmond-Harris writes at The Root that beauty isn’t a zero-sum game.

[That] kind of suggests that there’s a limited amount of beauty that needs to be divided between all women, or all black women. But why? It’s not as if anyone says blondes lose all their social capital when a brunette is the “it” girl of the moment. Do short-haired white dudes have to be stripped of their cuteness because Jared Leto’s flowing mane unofficially won “best hair”? Are pants wearers suddenly undesirable because good-old ageless Pharrell decided to wear shorts on the red carpet? Nope.

Instead, Desmond-Harris suggests that we learn from Alek Wek who said the following when she learned that she had been a role model for Lupita:

“When I was growing up, my mother taught me and my sisters to celebrate each other—there was no room in our household for negativity. She taught us to embrace each other and this was empowering for us. She also taught us the value of celebrating our differences.”

The shade of one’s skin shouldn’t be a trend; it’s not something people can truly change and separation doesn’t help anyone. Celebrating Nyong’o’s complexion as a black woman should be joyous and inclusive, not divisive.

“I can’t be your sister if I’m thinking people only think you’re pretty because you’re light-skinned,” says Dr. Yaba Blay. The big picture, in her view, is, “If we recognize that white supremacy disempowers us all, we all want to sit on the same side of the fence.”

Image via Getty.

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