Lupita & Dencia: Two Different Representations of a People


It’s pretty safe to say that Lupita Nyong’o is the “it” girl of the moment. You cannot log onto a social media, blog, fashion website or glance through a weekly tabloid without seeing her image splayed on the pages. The young, Kenyan actress has been heralded for not only her groundbreaking performance in “12 Years A Slave,” but also for her style of dress on the red carpet.

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 19th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards - Roaming Showcompletely 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 You can follow her on twitter @Vivaciously_Val.


  1. I love to see dark girls shine. But I dont find Lupita particularly attractive. Nothing to do with skin color. When you have extremes in color – like albino white or jet black I just dont find it attractive.

    However I do find dark women like Tika Sumpter, Oprah, Michelle Obama, etc very attractive.

  2. This is very very interesting, I love brown skin chicks. They are the coolest chick out in the marketplace. But they do have very bad attitudes.

  3. It’s sad how hate filled we are towards ourselves.
    When I see the way people respond to Lupita you can see why the world has spent so much time trying to downplay the beauty of women who look like her. People are literally in awe of her and should be. On the other hand, this Denicia chick is not only sick, but common. She is crazy if she thinks she actually looks good or better than the way she used to look. She was once beautiful and a wonderful representation of African beauty. Now she looks like the corpse of a white woman. So sad. Only when we value our own beauty, will the world be forced to do the same.


    Ignore Kareem Williams. He is spamming. I see him commenting on dozens of sites. Too bad that type of link spam doesn’t work and hasn’t for almost a decade. Step your SEO game up, bruh.


  4. Good points made Ms. Valerie. This essay is yet another example of how people of color are not in touch with their history. When it comes to African Americans our conduct towards each other, even in the Obama era, is still based on principles planted by the Willie Lynch letter of 1712. Lynch said, “use Fear, Distrust, and Envy for control purposes”. One of the ways to use these principles was to use Color/Shade, Intelligence, Sex, Size, and Attitude against one another. To this day we see envy in our communities in various forms instead of exalting each other for who we are and what we accomplish. Seeing Nyongo’s beauty at these awards shows or in the general public shouldn’t be a surprise because she is gorgeous. But many of us strike her features down; upholding the principles Lynch spoke about. Dencia on the other had is just ridiculous and an example of self hate. The biggest disappointment is she is now trying to make money off dark-skinned people who have a complex about their features. It’s time we all compliment who we are, dark or light skinned, and bring joy to the features we have been Blessed with.

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