We’ve all heard the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but how often has anyone stopped to think of what that actually means.
As People Magazine announced that the well-spoken and extremely talented (not to mention beautiful) Lupita Nyong’o, winner of Best Actress at the Oscars for 12-years of Slave, would be “crowned” the cover girl for their “Most Beautiful Person” issue, it also came out that Lupita would not only be the third black woman to ever grace the cover, but also the first dark-skinned woman. This is significant for Lupita herself because she has said she spent much of her childhood being ashamed of the colour of her skin. And the media hasn’t helped this my digitally editing photos to lighten people’s skin, and also add studio lighting for the same effect.
It is wonderful to see Lupita on the cover, proud and confident, but it still makes me wonder why we still put so much emphasis on beauty. We know People does it to sell magazines, but true beauty, like in Lupita’s case goes way beyond skin deep.
Beauty fades, it is a superficial part of someone’s identity that doesn’t do much to describe who they are. Like, did you know that Lupita is a documentary film director and producer? Has a masters from the Yale School of Drama? Directed a music video that was nominated for the 2009 MTV Africa Music Awards?
All that says a lot more about a person than “beautiful.”
Magazines and the media have long been held to blame for creating these images that young people believe they are supposed to achieve. It doesn’t help that they celebrate looks over things like charity, humour and intelligence. What if next year People introduced an “Innovator of the Year” cover? Or, “Most Inspiring Writer”?
The true gifts we offer to the world, the path we take to make our communities better in some little way often go unrecognized and unappreciated. Sometimes it seems like to get noticed, compromises have to be made, but it should be that way? Women shouldn’t have to feed into the “sex sells” idea to get her ideas out. And media should dumb down content to appeal to the stereotypes that men are only interested in breasts, sports and beer.Lupita should be celebrated, but not just for the beauty the camera captures, but for the beauty we all possess in one way or another, in our souls and personalities.