Oscar-winning actress, Lupita Nyong’o has been named People Magazine’s most beautiful person for 2014. She will grace the cover of the 25th anniversary issue. This comes shortly after Lancome announced she would be their latest celebrity brand Ambassador. It’s been quite a year for the 31-year old actress who’s been on everyone’s best-dressed list at nearly every event she’s attended over the last few months.
Lupita has quickly become a media darling often referred to as graceful and well-spoken. She embodies the essence of beauty in a way that the media and the world of entertainment has not embraced with such open arms. When speaking at a luncheon put on by Essence Magazine earlier this year, she spoke candidly of what it’s like being a dark-skinned woman in entertainment after receiving a letter from a young girl.
She said, “I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty. Black beauty, dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: ‘Dear Lupita,’ it reads, ‘I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.'” Lupita added her own thoughts saying, “I remember a time when I too felt un-beautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin. I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin.”
This is a sentiment shared by one too many dark girls growing up and feeling not so attractive because of only seeing one type of beauty standard. Nyong’o closed out her speech at that event saying, “I hope that my presence on your screens and in magazines may lead you, young girl on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty, but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade in that beauty.”
The actress continues to inspire many; black or white. Now that she has been named People’s Most Beautiful and it will likely stir up the pot of what is deemed as beautiful in mainstream media. At the same time it could be argued that this is a trend and the publication is merely putting the most popular ‘it-person’ on its cover. Over the years it does seem that whoever’s in the limelight tends to make People magazine’s list.
Regardless of what the motives are, this brings forth the idea of how the world is changing. Or is it? Perhaps a trend is a trend. Or maybe a trend can become mainstream quickly before the popularity of it dies.
No matter what, it’s a wonderful thing to see Nyong’o with her dark skin and natural hair embraced by fashion, beauty and mainstream media. It validates what people of colour have known for a long time. Every one, no matter what your shade, has beauty.