Pave the Way

Lupita Nyong'o and Alek Wek

Source: 1, 2, 3 (top right, Alek Wek)

Like everyone else on the face of this earth, I am in love with Hollywood’s new “it” girl, Lupita Nyong’o. She is gorgeous, fashionable, a great actress and getting lots of positive media attention.

But how did she get here?

I’m not asking so much about Nyong’o’s  journey, but the media’s journey to embrace her.

In her speech at Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, Nyong’o said something that I believe really spoke volumes.

“My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no consolation: She’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then Alek Wek came on the international scene. When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny,” Nyong’o said. (essence.com)

When Nyong’o saw Alek Wek, she saw beauty that looked like hers. In essence (no pun intended), she saw the media celebrating Wek, which offered encouragement and sent the message that she too was beautiful.

But the media didn’t always celebrate this kind of beauty. I remember people calling Alek Wek ugly, criticizing her skin tone and overall look. She wasn’t always celebrated, still isn’t. But a look that may have been foreign to everyone else was familiar to a little girl sitting at home; and it seeing it changed her view of herself.

If you are facing criticizing, it’s just a sign that you are a trailblazer. It may be tough now, but pave the way for the women coming behind you. The ones who look like you. Who’ve experienced the same things as you. They’re longing to see beauty that looks like them.

be inspired. 

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