Saturday February 15 2014

Lupita’s is the new beauty

By Christine W. Wanjala

If you are a woman and you happen to ask me what time it is, I will tell them it is time to throw out the skewed perceptions of beauty, especially when an African woman is the subject and the rest of the world is the beholder.

It is also time to stand tall, brush your kaweke hair, throw out the extreme salon rituals where you wrest the tough, kinky, refusing to grow hair into straight tresses. It is time to just get out your Vaseline and slather it in a thick layer on your skin to highlight the richness of complexion.

It is Lupita O’clock, a great time to be an African woman. Not remotely or vaguely African. No, this time it is for the unapologetically dark, with short hair and everything else that has not been pushed at us as beauty. And she is hot! Take that Akon for refusing to hire dark-skinned models, moreover on African soil, for your video. Take that colour-struck people! Yes, take that beauty industry selling self-hate under the fairness creams! Your time is not only up, it is past and Lupita Nyong’o is just confirming it. Who needs fairness when they can just be the way they are? Take the world by storm?

What excites me most about Nyong’o is not her sense of style, though I must admit few have the ability to nail such varying outfits with such elegance every time. It is not her acting either. Again I must admit, you have to be supremely talented to become such a big hit on your first big screen attempt. It is her beauty, or should I say her kind of beauty, and the ripples it is causing. I will not leave the question of whether she is beautiful or not up for debate. Not after what happened recently with Africa’s Next Top Model winner, Stacey Aamito, where a certain beer holder said he does not think she is beautiful. All the beholders (note the difference) in this case have already agreed, the Kenyan-born actress is a stunning beauty.

End of story.
I know a number of Lupitas. They are all around me, at work, next door. And I have always thought they were beautiful and the world around should take note and that we will come to a point where their colour and hair will join the other ideals of beauty. I have always wished their concerns would not be that their skin has darkened but rather whether it was healthy or not. The makers and peddlers of these beauty ideals have been pushing a different image too long and it looks nothing like Lupita. I will not join the bandwagon of saying there is anything wrong with lighter skin if you are African, longer hair, or even hair extensions.

All I’m saying is that Lupita’s fame right now is a bold statement to the world that attempts to put beauty in a straight jacket. Remember those adverts about a certain fairness cream that showed a dark skinned girl going for an interview and failing because of her complexion only to return after having used the cream and, of course, becoming noticeably fairer to pass with flying colours? Yeah, I wonder what they have to say about Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong’o.