12 Years a Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o Delivers a Powerful Speech About Black Beauty
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If you’ve watched the Oscars, you have heard Lupita Nyong’o’s moving and inspiring speech about believing in the validity of your dreams no matter where you’re from.
But before the Oscars, Lupita delivered a very powerful speech at the Essence Magazine annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon about beauty that every young black girl needs to hear.
In her speech, Lupita shared her own insecurities as a young girl. It was difficult for her to see herself as beautiful. And it didn’t help that everywhere she turned whether on TV and in magazines, beauty was always portrayed as pale-skinned, golden-haired and blue-eyed. But according to Lupita, her self-hatred faded when she saw how South Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek was embraced by many as beautiful.
“When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty”.
But it was her own mother’s words that made her finally accept herself and celebrate her own unique beauty. Her mother told her that “You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you.” These words bothered Lupita but she finally realized what they meant:
“I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.”
“And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What does sustain us, what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty inflames the heart and enchants the soul.”
She concluded her oratory by sharing her hopes that her presence in the media – in movies, TV screens and magazines – will help young black girls to finally realize that they are already beautiful. Black girls only need to work on their inner beauty because that is what lasts even when external beauty has long faded. Lastly, every young girl needs to understand that there is no shade to inner beauty.
Watch Lupita Nyong’o’s powerfully inspirational speech below:
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