by Candace of Kiss My Curls
Lupita Nyong’o almost wasn’t.
In the past few months, Lupita Nyong’o has taken the world by storm with her grace, beauty, talent and sincerity. She takes pictures with a soft smile and a calm serenity, all the while totally killing a self-selected couture number (the girl has impeccable taste, yo). Every time she opens her mouth, her eloquent, heartfelt words bring tears to EVERYONE’S eyes, even her own. She is basically a perfect human being. I’ve been totally Lupitafied and I don’t ‘eem care.
The deciding moment for me (well, one of them, let’s be honest) was Lupita’s speech at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon held last week. Standing in a Giambattista Valli ensemble and a perfectly manicured TWA, Lupita stood on stage and in less than 5 minutes took our breath away with the story of her struggle with her night-shaded skin. During her speech, Lupita recalled how she would pray each night to become lighter and waking up disappointed to unanswered prayers. She spoke on memories of her peers making fun of how dark she was and how she didn’t believe her mother when she told her that she was indeed beautiful. Had she stayed in this state of mind, we would never know who Lupita was today.
But Lupita saw Alec Wek.
The sight of this dark, sinewy, exotically beautiful model from South Sudan breaking down barriers of her own when she entered the scene awoke something in Lupita; maybe she was beautiful after all. She admitted to fighting this realization at first stating, “I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy.” However, the reflection she saw of herself in Alek was undeniable. This inadvertent validation eventually propelled her to follow her passion and become the breakout star she is today.
If there were no Alek, there would be no Lupita.
Alek inspired Lupita inadvertently and in such a way that Lupita’s life was changed forever, and now she’s doing some inspiring of her own.
Whom do you inspire?
What little girl is looking at your hair and recognizing herself in your natural beauty?
Ladies, we wield more power in our fros than we will ever realize. Kinks and curls like ours CANNOT be just hair. It’s culture. It’s history. It’s a stand. It’s a shining beacon of hope to the generations coming after us who won’t feel compelled to spend copious amounts of money on texture changing procedures because they feel as if their natural texture is inadequate. We are their lighthouses and we don’t even know it. Our seemingly small victories over the daily struggles with our hair, both tangible and societal, are showing little girls and even not so little girls that there is no singular beauty phenotype. There is only beauty. You demonstrate that every time you leave your house, despite the fact that you hate your puff or you’re out of your favorite gel and your hair is doing that weird “thing,” but you walk in stately confidence anyway.
We, as kinky haired women do not have the option of ambiguity. Thank God. God forbid future Lupitas be fated to obscurity because we didn’t acknowledge the power of modeling what nature gave us. We cannot rob the future of these powerful, beautiful women because we didn’t recognize our influence over them today. It is truly our duty to carry on, to become more inventive with our hair and not to rest on the laurels of beauty proclamations of the past. It’s our calling to rock our texture at work, at play and in elegance to show those little and not so little girls that yes, sweetie, you ARE adequate. Your beauty IS enough, all the time, and anywhere you want to go. We tell them with our actions that your uniqueness is not only ok, but it is also special and it is fierce.
We owe it to the little ones and the not so little ones.
We owe it to the future Lupitas.
Candace currently lives in Chicago, IL, where she manages www.kissmycurls.com with her sister, Janna, who resides in Huntsville, AL. Follow Kiss My Curls on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/