Africa Speaks Reasoning Forum

AFRICA AND THE DIASPORA => Our Beautiful People => Topic started by: Iniko Ujaama on January 27, 2014, 06:19:53 AM

Title: Something about Lupita?
Post by: Iniko Ujaama on January 27, 2014, 06:19:53 AM
I find Lupita Nyong'o is attractive on a number of levels. On two levels really which I can perceive; physically and the extent of her personality she could manifest in interviews. The physical aspect is a result of what features I have been conditioned to find attractive. The personality traits, her sensitivity and  confidence are attractive as well.

However the kind of hype and attention that she has been getting in all quarters had me wondering. People seem to be beside themselves with her beauty. I know persons who look just like her in many ways and they are easily passed over or even ridiculed. So what is it about Lupita. My personal view is that it has to do with more than all of the desirable characteristics Lupita herself manifests but I would like to hear other perspectives.

Title: Re: Something about Lupita?
Post by: Makini on January 27, 2014, 08:21:15 AM
Iniko Ujaama, I just thought to add this article to this discussion on Lupita Nyong'o.

Lupita Amondi Nyong'o (born 1983) is a Mexican-born Kenyan actress and film director. She made her American film debut in Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave (2013) as Patsey, for which she received critical acclaim. For her role Nyong'o won the Screen Actors Guild and Critics' Choice Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and was nominated for the Golden Globe, BAFTA and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. (

'Vanity Fair' Accused of Lightening Lupita Nyong'o's Skin

by Ericka Sóuter January 17


Vanity Fair is under fire for a photo it took of Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong'o. The problem is not that it's racy, but rather people are calling it racist. The trouble began after the magazine tweeted a shot from a recent shoot the 12 Years a Slave star did for the magazine. In the image, she looks gorgeous but noticeably lighter. It has fans wondering if the magazine made her look a different color on purpose. Take a look for yourself:

( (

Readers took issue with the image immediately.

@GoldieTaylor tweeted, "Dear @VanityFair Why would you do this?"

@deluxvivens wrote, "did vanity fair seriously lighten lupita's picture? really? did this happen?"

@3ristar added, "She's a natural beauty...why did you have to lighten her up?"

Of course we don't know what Vanity Fair's intentions were. They have not released a statement about the issue yet. But there is no denying the actress looks a lot lighter than she actually is.

Source: (

Title: Re: Something about Lupita?
Post by: Makini on January 27, 2014, 02:55:43 PM
Hi Iniko Ujaama,

I also find Lupita is attractive. Her face is so rare in the spheres she is operating in now. She is not Rhianna, Beyoncé, Halle Berry or Queen Latifah. She is a minority within a minority within Hollywood. And yes, she is the beauty we all see in African, African-American and Caribbean faces, but even within our own communities a rarity because as you stated, our societies and media in particular continue to distill what is presented to us and manipulates what should be celebrated and desired.

I don’t know what you mean when you speak about her “sensitivity”, but her confidence while definitely attractive should be considered in context to her background. I don’t know who is the ‘black girl next door’ but she is not it despite the media subtly trying to bring her across as this.

It’s either we have a Precious or a Rachel Jeantel who has been abused or disenfranchised in numerous ways and we should pity her or praise her while simultaneously drowning her in condescension. Or, we have an atypical Lupita who has, at least from what Wikipedia reveals, a father who is a professor at a prominent African University, studied acting at Yale, learnt Spanish as a teen in Mexico and is from a family with a political background. And there, I think, lies her attraction. All these dainty, white-approved characteristics, to remind whites ‘we can like black folks’, when they come in packages they don’t have to feel guilty about or that remind them of the harsh reality of being black/dark skinned in a society driven by white privilege.

The fascination I think extends into the rest of who she is or may be. Her stylist (or she herself) crafts her image very ‘white’ in a white industry, to make her ‘palatable’ to the majority. There are many ways makeup artists apply make-up to make one’s face more angular, or elongated, to modify a flatter nose, to thin out African lips, ‘rouge-up’ darker cheeks and skin that doesn’t naturally ‘rouge’ and of course use lighter make up to supposedly to remove shadows or ‘even’ skin tone or just deliberately lighten skin. But, in each way, effectively modifying ethnic characteristics. This last point is evident in the Vanity Fair picture of her wearing white with the white balloon background.

I think Vanity Fair deliberately lightened her, whether with make-up, set lighting or Photoshop editing. I could imagine some Vanity Fair editing team in a photo selecting meeting, with three identical images of her, but different light exposures and the darker more truer image of her being the first to be rejected. I think that every time such “beauty” magazines modify the complexion of black/dark skinned celebrities they should be reminded that this subtlety adds up. It’s shadism, colorism and therefore tantamount to subliminal (overt if you ask me) racism – let’s just make her a little more visually palatable or acceptable. A little less ‘threatening’… Maybe they are trying in some twisted way to move beyond black stereotypes but in so doing they repackage blacks-minorities as white. As for how much she herself is a part of crafting this part of her persona, or wishes to reject this, will reveal itself in time.

Title: Re: Something about Lupita?
Post by: Kurious Rose on January 28, 2014, 12:41:42 AM
The last (Vanity Fair) image is definitely a product of Photoshop editing. The disparity in coloration in the first split image could be the result of different lighting at different locations as well as how the images were captured, for example, on or off camera flash versus no flash/ ambient lighting.

A symmetrical face, tall, slim and eloquent . . . she’s just the kind of black who would be granted token status in some white circles. She’s also the kind of black person that other blacks may “admire” because of that very fact.  Until I observe her articulate her views on serious issues, the potential dangers of her acceptance by whites (and some blacks) far outweigh her physical attractiveness.

Title: Re: Something about Lupita?
Post by: Nakandi on January 28, 2014, 04:21:05 PM
In the images below is Lupita on a "red carpet" (L) and her in the role of Patsy from 12 Years A Slave (R). These images illustrate what Makini talked about in terms of what make-up can do. They also illustrate what bothers me about Lupita's natural hair. In no pictures or interviews do we see her with hair like in the image to the right. This reminds me of the racist Nivea advert some years ago of re-civilizing oneself by getting a fine, clean hair cut like the one on the left.


Lupita, a child of two Kenyans, is a production of whiteness. She has a Westernized interior and a touch of an African exterior. This is a strong reinforcement of the idea of White supremacy.

The reaction to Lupita from many black communities looks a lot like the reaction they showed towards President Obama; some blacks still strive to sit at the table of their previous masters. Once they make it there, they feel accomplishment as it proves they indeed can. So Lupita is another reminder that if we follow the rules we can get there.

Title: Re: Something about Lupita?
Post by: Iniko Ujaama on January 30, 2014, 03:18:05 AM
Hi Makini

I don’t know what you mean when you speak about her “sensitivity”, but her confidence while definitely attractive should be considered in context to her background. I don’t know who is the ‘black girl next door’ but she is not it despite the media subtly trying to bring her across as this.

It’s either we have a Precious or a Rachel Jeantel who has been abused or disenfranchised in numerous ways and we should pity her or praise her while simultaneously drowning her in condescension.

I initially thought to put sensitivity in inverted commas. This was based on an interview in which she was talking about how she was affected by movie and began to well up in tears.
When I said that persons like her would be passed over easily was based on her complexion and features(not so much her family background) but I do agree with that "A Precious or a Rachel Jeantel" would be considered even less desirable by mainstream standards.

I often see cases where some or other black person is highlighted for being beautiful or attractive because they supposedly have "exotic" look or after they have stood out in some way for some feat their attractiveness then becomes apparent.

Title: Re: Something about Lupita?
Post by: Nakandi on February 01, 2014, 12:52:57 PM
"...there is an air of exceptionalism about the Lupita Nyong’o that the media is feeding us. As if to suggest that she is the exception, and not the rule. And that is what makes me uncomfortable with her image though I love it so.

I see Lupita every day. I see her as often on the streets of Philadelphia as I do on the streets of Accra. I see her in my classroom. I see her at the corner store. I see her at the mall. I see her everywhere.
And so do you. Only you don’t know it. If it took the media’s fixation on Lupita’s Otherness to introduce you to the beauty of dark skin, then you don’t know what you’re seeing when you look at dark-skinned women. Or maybe you don’t even see us. That is, if you rely on the media to tell you what to see and how to see it.
Yes, Lupita is beautiful, but please believe, Black BEEN beautiful."

Full article: (

Title: Lupita Nyong’o’s Moving ESSENCE Speech: "There is no shade to that beauty"
Post by: Iniko Ujaama on March 01, 2014, 06:40:29 PM
Lupita Nyong'o was awarded Best Breakthrough Performance for her work in 12 Years a Slave at yesterday's ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. Just like at the Critics Choice Awards, her acceptance speech was sad and inspiring and beautiful — all at the same time. Here it is...:


...I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty, black beauty, dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: "Dear Lupita," it reads, "I think you’re really lucky to be this black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me."

My heart bled a little when I read those words, I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.

I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before. 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.

And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no conservation, she’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then … Alek Wek. A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me, when I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty. But around me, the preference for my skin prevailed, to the courters that I thought mattered I was still unbeautiful. And 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 is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsey in so much trouble with her master, but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit even after the beauty of her body has faded away.

And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.

There is no shade to that beauty. (

Title: Re: Something about Lupita?
Post by: News on March 04, 2014, 08:16:26 PM
Lupita two days after her Oscar victory

Title: Re: Something about Lupita?
Post by: Zaynab on March 04, 2014, 11:43:13 PM
I am always wary when persons speak about ‘natural’ in relation to hair.

“Adding hair, even to shorter hair, can be fun and sexy! I added hair extensions to Lupita’s natural hairstyle for Letterman, which is something any woman can create at home! All you need is a strong holding gel and loose, textured hair extensions.”

Celebrity hairstlist, Ted Gibson, who worked on Lupita Nyong’o’s hair made the comment above during an interview with DuJour Magazine. ( (

The consensus among many in the U.S. and other European countries seems to be that ‘natural hair’ is hair without extensions or hair that can be made to look ‘natural’ when modified whether that be by relaxers, braids, extensions or weaves. However, this is not how I would define natural hair.

Natural hair to me is the state of the hair growing in its genuine (natural) state, whether that is kinky, straight, curly or otherwise. Braids, weaves, extensions or relaxed hair just don’t fit into this category.

The phrase ‘real hair’ too has little to do with natural hair. It is only used in relation to natural hair when convincing persons that your hair has no ‘textured’ extensions.

We need to give some meaning back to the words natural and real. They should not include cosmetic alterations.

Title: Re: Something about Lupita?
Post by: News on March 06, 2014, 09:49:04 PM
Lupita stars in "Shuga Ep1 Friday Nights"

Shuga Ep1 Friday Nights (

Title: While Loving Lupita, Don’t Forget Gabourey
Post by: Iniko Ujaama on March 10, 2014, 08:44:11 PM
While Loving Lupita, Don’t Forget Gabourey


Like most people who have souls, I teared up listening to Lupita Nyong’o's acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress during Sunday night’s Oscar telecast. I admire Lupita not only for her obvious talent, but for her honesty and willingness to defend black beauty. Her inspirational speech on the intersection of race and beauty at Essence‘s Black Women in Hollywood luncheon reminded me of a time when schoolyard taunts made me insecure about my own complexion, and I had to smile at the thought of Nyong’o emboldening young girls just as dark-skinned supermodel Alek Wek had emboldened her.

As elated as I was for Nyong’o's Oscar win for 12 Years a Slave and her democratization of beauty, I was unable to ignore the stark contrast between her and another actor who, despite her talent, receives only a fraction of Nyong’o's fanfare.

When Gabourey Sibide first gained acclaim (and an Oscar nomination) for her role in Precious, she generated buzz in Hollywood for her acting chops, but never became the woman that paparazzi were angling for on the red carpet. Nyong’o, on the other hand, instantly became a media darling. It seemed like I couldn’t go a day without seeing her, draped in designer gowns, and it wasn’t long before Vogue—which never invited Sidibe to grace its pages—named Nyong’o to its 10 Rising Style Stars of 2014. The media was quick to bestow on Nyong’o the story of the underdog, the dreamer who made it despite all the odds, and though these compliments ring true, they were also true for Sidibe.


But obviously there’s a marked difference between who is allowed to represent “black beauty” and who isn’t. It’s apparently become okay to have black features like Nyong’o, but you still have to come in the right shape. You still have to be able to squeeze into sample sizes and look at home in a magazine photo shoot. You need to be dainty and petite, soft and feminine. Though Nyong’o's ubiquity will do much for elevating the acceptance of black women, it’s difficult to imagine Sidibe would ever have been put in the same position.

A vicious undertone of fat phobia shadows pop culture conversations about Sidibe. Whenever she appears at an awards ceremony, the emphasis seems to be on her weight and rarely on the acting accomplishments that got her there. While she looked radiant in a magenta gown at the Oscars Sunday, the vast majority of tweets and comments were jokes about her size, and the same thing happened after her Golden Globes appearance a few weeks ago. Not that any of that seems to slow down Sidibe, though. She constantly brims with self-confidence and should have been given a Golden Globe for her Twitter retort alone:

( (

It’s also possible that the disparity in Sidibe’s and Nyong’o's reception was partially due to the roles they played. Nyong’o was essentially rewarded by the Academy for playing a long-ago slave, which Hollywood always recognizes. America seems to be galvanized by slave narratives, since they portray racism as something unfortunate that happened centuries ago, while narratives of present-day oppression, like the one in Precious, are deemed too unsettling to watch. I can’t count how many friends balked at seeing Precious a few years ago, but then practically sprinted to the theater to see 12 Years a Slave.

Celebrating black women who are only a certain size and only portray a certain narrative is problematic. Though I’m glad that there are black women and girls who now will walk a little bit taller because of what Nyong’o's talent has done for them, Sidibe has been doing the same thing and is still deserving of her own pedestal.

Photo of Lupita Nyong’o (top) at the Oscars, courtesy of Flick user tonirealli; photo of Gabourey Sidibe at Toronto International Film Festival from Flickr user gdcgraphics, both via Creative Commons 2.0. (

Title: Who Gets To Love Lupita Nyong'o?
Post by: Nakandi on March 12, 2014, 03:19:59 PM
"It's official: Oscar-winning actress and Hollywood newcomer Lupita Nyong'o is a fan-favorite -- but whether her popularity is a fetishization is up for heated debate. Is white America tokenizing her, or just in-tune with varied standards of beauty?"

Who Gets To Love Lupita Nyong'o? ( (

Title: Re: Something about Lupita?
Post by: leslie on March 13, 2014, 12:07:47 PM
I think that that discussion was one worth having. I understand and agree with the commentator’s view about being concerned and suspicious of white media's "fetishizing" of Lupita. I totally get how the term was used and agree with its use. I also agree with the last speaker - the darkest one there - about being wary of males commenting on black women's beauty and how it could come over as offensive due to their male privilege. But I did not see how that was relevant to his earlier commentary. In any case, these other females used that as an opportunity to further blast the host. The first female (the one with the weave) was just a rabble-rouser with no real point.  The other one spoke a load of crap about accepting white approval and not being at all concerned about white media’s promotion of Lupita. All in all that was a good challenge for the host.

Title: Re: Something about Lupita?
Post by: Nakandi on March 13, 2014, 01:37:29 PM
I agree that this was a discussion worth having. However, I find that there was little challenge to white supremacy, both external and internalised.

There was a lot of talk (by the first and second participant) about how the black community automatically meets someone outside said community who appreciates Lupita with suspicious. Who are these someones, if not light skinned females who are used to being creme de la creme of the black community?

The second participant goes on to say that it is making people uncomfortable that a person like Lupita is being celebrated. Really? Who are these people getting uncomfortable? It is the Halle Berrys of the black community, the Vanessa Williams who are resisting the appreciation of dark skinned beauty. (Below is a recent video of Vanessa Williams speaking on colorism - her denial of near-white privilege is beyond hilarious.)

One point I did appreciate from the second participant is that there is little resistance to the glamorisation of Rihanna and Beyonce (by black males). Even though there is critique as to how they are glamorised, the attention is expected and accepted. Black media has to ask itself why the mere glamorisation of Lupita is problematic. Which brings us back to colorism.

Yaba Blay talks about the black gaze. I think it needs to be divided into the light-skin black gaze and dark-skin black gaze, as these are surely different.

Towards the end of the discussion the first speaker verbalises the climax of her nonsense. She says that black males have no authority to comment on black female beauty because of their destruction/war on black females. Ironic that she has it - sitting there throwing the weave on her head around.

Vanessa Williams on colorism in Hollywood
Vanessa L. Williams discusses colorism in Hollywood (

Title: Re: Something about Lupita?
Post by: melaninmagic on March 18, 2014, 02:13:19 AM
To have an entire conversation on what white people done next on national television,  speaks volumes of how deep this psychosis goes.

How about we do this instead:

So, if we are going to continue "making mountains out of mole hills" with these racist psychopaths, the least we could do it this:

Everytime these kkkrackers do something that pisses us off, we start off by saying this: "Now look at what these crazy, dumb ass white supremacists done next". In this way, everything else that we say after that fits into this context.

Title: The Respectability Politics of Lupita Nyong'o
Post by: Nakandi on April 18, 2014, 01:13:15 PM
“She has acted like a movie star: she looks great, she is grateful, there’s no pictures of her drunk at some party. She’s played her part well.”

It may seem harmless on one level, but the comment is enormously telling. It highlights not only the politics that we are all vaguely aware of when it comes to who does and doesn’t get the Oscar, but the politics of respectability that have, for better or worse, colored so much of Lupita’s attention and success. Because what if Lupita hadn’t played her so-called part so well? What if she had been snapped drunk at a party? What if she wasn’t Ivy-League educated, poised, articulate, calculatedly and well-styled, full of such earnest awe and gratitude? And more importantly, what “part,” exactly, is she expected to play?

Consider last year’s it girl, Jennifer Lawrence. Much of Lawrence’s charm, what has seemingly endeared her to fans and voters alike, is the fact that she’s beautiful but brash, clumsy, outspoken, quick to drop an f-bomb or flip the bird, and unapologetic about her love of sports and junk food. If Lupita had exhibited those characteristics, if she were less poised and less stylishly presented, would she garner the same appreciation that she’s been getting? Would she still have won the Oscar? The ideal answer would be “Yes, of course.” But the thing about the ideal anything is that it doesn’t always reflect reality.


Earlier this week, there was a controversial cartoon released depicting a little black girl with posters of Lupita plastered across her bedroom wall, while posters of Nicki Minaj are stuffed into her trash can. By denigrating Minaj and putting Lupita on a pedestal of exemplary black womanhood, the artist, and those who share the sentiments of the cartoon, do not only Minaj but Lupita a disservice.

Full article at (