What the Church can Learn from Lupita Nyong’o about Beauty

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The stunning black actress came to the stage to deliver her speech at the Black Women in Hollywood celebration luncheon in the Beverly Hills Hotel. Her name is Lupita Nyong’o.

She began her speech with a letter she received from a young black teenage girl who wrote that she was contemplating buying a skin-whitening cream, for she was ashamed of her dark skin. She then told the actress, “but you appeared on the world map and saved me.”

Lupita continued to say that those words made her heart bleed a little. From this letter, Lupita went on to tell her story about how once, she felt “unbeautiful.” And when she saw only pale-skinned celebrities lighting up the red carpet, her self-hatred grew more immense. Day after day she would wake up every morning disappointed with the same shade of brown skin that she always had.

Her mother told her one day, “You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you.” Lupita realized that beauty wasn’t something she could “acquire or consume is was just something that I had to be…you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you.”

Beauty Told by the World

Everywhere I look, I see photographs, magazines, fashion and social media infested with the idea that beauty is external. That women must conform to one type of beauty. And that single type of beauty is celebrated, recognized and appreciated all over the world. It’s sad that virtue hardly has a place in Red Carpet runways, celebrity marriages and social media.

Your value, your identity and your dating life is dependant on how skinny you are, how many manicures you can afford a month, how on fleek your eyebrows are, and how drop-dead gorgeous your hair is.

Beauty Told by the Church

And while the Church wrinkles and turns up their nose in disgust with the world, they turn around and do the exact same thing. I hear one type of beauty that is being celebrated, appreciated and recognized in the Church, and that is if you all of your beauty is internal.

While internal beauty is imperishable, external beauty, although it is temporary,  is important as well. I think this is where the Church has missed what people like Lupita Nyong’o has to offer: a validation of external beauty, but understanding how important the internal beauty is.

By the Church’s influence on me, I have begun to believe that outward beauty is wrong. That it’s wrong to express my femininity through some eyeliner, mascara and mini skirts.

Meeting in the Middle

Outward beauty should be celebrated, not demonized in the Church.

Internal beauty should be celebrated more in the world, not ignored.

It’s a “both/and” not an “either/or”. Both the world and the Church run to the extremes of this issue, can I suggest we meet in the middle? While the world has a lot to learn about how to raise girls to have internal beauty, the Church has a lot to learn about giving the freedom to girls to express their outward beauty by wearing makeup and beautiful clothes.

We can learn a lot from Lupita Nyong’o and her eloquent speech on beauty. She offers both what the Church and the World have to bring to the table. External beauty. Internal beauty. And somehow, they meet together in harmonious balance.

Lupita ended her speech addressed to the young black woman:

“I hope my presence on your screens and in magazines, leave 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. In that, there is no shade in that beauty.”

Thanks for reading:)

Kate

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