"Your Dreams are Valid..."
Lupita Nyong’o, best known for her Oscar winning portrayal of Patsey in 12 Years a Slave, has been killing the game in terms of fashion. The first time I saw Lupita was at the Golden Globe awards. I have noted her as an actress, and was proud that a Black woman was getting recognized for her artistic talent. Nonetheless, when I saw her in her bright red, caped gown looking like the superhero young Black girls have needed for years, I was mesmerized. Her acting talent is what hooked me, but her being unashamedly Black and allowing that to permeate through her fashion sense and rhetoric is what blew me away. I am not alone in that sentiment, as seen in the media. However, what I have noticed in the media when they speak about Lupita is hardly about her talent, and only about her beauty. At first, I was grateful to see someone who looked like her on the screen. I was excited that folk were talking about her, that she was being celebrated by everyone. Nonetheless, I feel that the focus on her which is also an attack on her as a Black woman. She has been fetishized because it is “surprising” that a Black woman, particularly a dark-skinned Black woman from Africa could be beautiful. Instead of focusing on what she has had to endure to get to the Academy, as well as her accolades, the focus has been on how much of a rarity people believe she is. Despite the truth of her being dazzling and poised, the omission of her accomplishments before the red carpets she has graced is also a subtle disrespect. However, this disrespect is likely more accepted because she is so gorgeous and fashion forward, and because communities of color also accept her beauty as a rarity. The Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised actress is not only undeniably alluring, but is a scholar and activist in her own right. Raised in Kenya for the majority of her life, Lupita went to college in the United States at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in film in 2003. Nyong'o directed, edited, and produced the 2009 documentary In My Genes, which focused on the lives of Kenyans living with albinism. Later on, she became a star of a Kenyan television show called Shuga, which zeroed in on sexual relationships among young people in Nairobi, and was created to promote safe sex and HIV/AIDS awareness. Nyong’o earned a Master’s degree from Yale’s School of Drama in 2012, and right before her graduation, she found out that she landed the role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. It seems as though she appeared out of thin air as a graceful talent; nonetheless, her arrival has been years in the making. All in all, there is much more to Lupita than her looks. Though the distraction from all other aspects of her life was alarming, most people can agree on one thing: her elegance is indisputable. Despite the omission of her scholarly and artistic endeavours, her presence in the media will without a doubt be an inspiration to young women who come after her. Because Lupita has emerged as unabased about her existence as she could be, young, darker skinned women of color will understand that they are worthy and beautiful enough to pursue their dreams.

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