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Actress Lupita Nyong’o (pictured) is certainly living proof of the popular phrase “Black is beautiful”! On Wednesday, People Magazine announced that their most-coveted award, “Most Beautiful” person, has gone to the first-time Oscar winner and the Kenyan stunner could not be happier.

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Nyong’o, who has been royally feted since taking home an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress this year for her riveting performance in the film “12 Years a Slave,” was born in Mexico but raised in Kenya.  The 31-year-old admitted to People Magazine that her perception of beauty was initially skewed, because she — like so many other Black women — was assaulted with images portraying the “ideal woman” as someone who is White with long flowing locks, “Light skin and long, flowing, straight hair,” she said. “Subconsciously you start to appreciate those things more than what you possess.”

The young performer credits her mother, Dorothy, for helping her to not subscribe to the unrealistic and detrimental media ideal of beauty.  Nyong’o told People that her mom “always said I was beautiful.”  But the road to getting to truly appreciate her beauty was not an easy one to travel. When Nyong’o was honored in February at the Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, she gave a speech where she discussed being “teased and taunted for her night-shaded skin.” She also expressed that her complexion “had always been an obstacle to overcome.”

She also mentioned how she would pray to God that she would wake up with lighter skin, “I tried to negotiate with God: I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted; I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter, but I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.”  

Dorothy’s supportive words, however, kept penetrating Nyong’o to the core until a lightbulb went off and her self-hatred came to an end.  “My mother again would say to me, ‘You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you.’ And these words plagued and bothered me; 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 enflames the heart and enchants the soul,” Nyong’o told those in attendance at the luncheon.

Now with an Oscar under her belt, the People Magazine cover nod, the Lancôme ambassador, and offers from a slew of designers to don their clothing at red carpet events, Nyong’o has truly become a Black, beautiful, and powerful force to be reckoned with indeed.

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