Beauty as black as night revealed by Lupita Nyong’o

for-every-little-child-lupita-nyongo-in-her-oscar-acceptance I’m still under the influence of her melodious voice and her open sincerity; her ease in sharing some of her private self with a room full of women, not to mention the whole world via the Internet.

It makes it a bit hard to focus on the content and the meaning in her message. But meaning there is…

Speaking last February at the Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, Lupita Nyong’o spoke of her own journey to recognizing, and much more accepting her own beauty. And that journey revealed several nuggets of gold I’d like to share with you.

The first is the challenge of getting through adolescence in this day and age with a sense of self intact. The images, photo-shopped (yes it seems that is a verb today) and rearranged, of bodies already reconstructed, are a constant projection of an artificial benchmark.

Lupita’s story of negotiating with God to be blessed with a lighter color of skin was touching. What did you pray for? Straight or curly hair? To be taller or shorter? Bigger breasted or smaller? The ace of the basketball team or the smartest in class?

The second point was the importance of positive role models. The advent of Alek Wek on the fashion scene, another black beauty, carried the stamp of approval of Oprah and made Alek’s beauty a ‘fact’ in the eyes of young Lupita. That opened the door for her to consider that black-as-night was strikingly beautiful. She also decided that for her beauty was not how she appeared but “something she had to be”… “ for what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and those around you.”

At one point Lupita shared a trenchant insight into her journey which resonated with some of my own experiences. It is a concept I’ve never heard expressed quite so clearly before but recognized from many clients’ stories as well. For she named a dangerous tendency when she shared that at first she wanted to reject this idea of her own beauty as she had “begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy”.

Please pause here and consider what that might mean… How could ‘the seduction of inadequacy’ be holding us back from recognizing our own strengths, our own abilities, and our own beauty? Could there be a sort of generalized ‘I’m not good enough’ mantra out there? Way too easy to align with so as not to raise expectations we might not be able to fulfill?

It’s just a question worth considering.

And then, once that is processed, let’s celebrate!

Let’s celebrate everyone who can serve as a role model;

Everyone who challenges us to step up to our own way of being, of finding joy and satisfaction with our unique combination of characteristics and attributes.

Let’s remember to celebrate everyday all the beauty around and within us.

I hope you’ll find the same inspiration I did listening to this young black beauty: