Black Women have been reveling in Nyong’o’s fame. With so many of our celebrities being of the light-skinned with weave variety, it is beyond refreshing to see a dark-skinned Black women with short-cropped natural hair being recognized and valued for her beauty and talent. I must say for myself that is has been a supreme joy to see someone with the color of my mother and the hair texture of so many of my aunties being celebrated. To reiterate what one of my favorite followers on twitter said the night of the Golden Globes – when you really take in Nyong’o’s beauty it becomes very apparent why the mainstream has worked so hard to demonize and reject Black beauty.
And it is on this point that we must face that Nyongo’s praise is occurring in a world where Black is still not completely accepted as naturally beautiful. Even as thousands fawn over Nyongo’s features, there are still quite a number who would and are doing everything to erase that very phenotype. Last week pictures of an African singer (Nigerian-Cameroonian to be exact), Dencia, went viral for all the wrong reasons. Dencia has launched a beauty line, Whitenicious, that promises to turn one from being brown-skinned to being “white” (the end result appears to be mostly a corpse-ghastly white than a Caucasian’s skin tone).
It has been no secret that skin bleaching products are big business all over the Americas, the African continent and Asia, but to see someone completely transform themselves to appear anything but Black will never cease to be worrisome and frightening, especially when such a product line was reported to be completely sold out within its first week of release.
Allow me to be blunt for a moment – the self hate is real and there are many willing to make millions off of it. For every Lupita Nyong’o who is willing to walk out and be accepted as she is there is a Dencia who wants nothing to do with her brown skin and will actively work to be free of it. It is because of the insistence of the latter that we need more celebrities similar to Nyong’o. Once we change the definition of beauty to include those who are proud to bear their melanated skin and kinky hair so-called beauty lines like Whitenicious won’t be boosting the pockets of manufacturers and drug companies. So, as we cheer on our girl Lupita we must remember that she shines in a world where her position in the world of beauty and fashion is the exception and not the rule.
Valerie Charles is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She blogs at GirlAboutBk.wordpress.com. You can follow her on twitter @Vivaciously_Val.