Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What Nyong’o was taught about blackness

Lupita Nyong’o is today regarded as one of the most beautiful
actresses in the world, said Leslie Bennetts in Glamour. But
growing up in Kenya, she felt anything but attractive because of
her dark skin. “European standards of beauty plague the entire
world—the idea that darker skin is not beautiful, that light skin
is the key to success and love,” says Nyong’o, 31. “Africa is no
exception. When I was in the second grade, one of my teachers
said, ‘Where are you going to find a husband? How are
you going to find someone darker than you?’ I was mortified.”
On Kenyan TV, she often saw ads for skin-lightening creams. “I
remember a commercial where a woman goes for an interview
and doesn’t get the job. Then she puts a cream on her face to
lighten the skin and gets the job! This is the message: Dark skin
is unacceptable.” Only when she saw films with dark-skinned
actresses such as Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey did
Nyong’o begin daring to think that her color wasn’t disqualifying.
“Until I saw people who looked like me, doing the things I
wanted to, I wasn’t so sure it was a possibility.”

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