In a series of weighty tweets, actress, model and Lancome spokesperson, Lupita Nyong’o, addressed colorism and society’s preference for lighter skin. Her first-hand experience from skin-tone discrimination is why she wrote, Sulwe, which means 'star.’ Her first tweet shows a picture of herself at five years old.
This is 5-year-old me. I reflected on this little girl's feelings and fantasies when I decided to write my children's book, #Sulwe. With this book, I wanted to hold up a mirror for her. Here's why: pic.twitter.com/KsivFjWl7X— Lupita Nyong'o (@Lupita_Nyongo) October 1, 2019
The Academy Award winner described how she didn’t see anyone who looked like her growing up.
As a little girl reading, I had all of these windows into the lives of people who looked nothing like me, chances to look into their worlds, but I didn't have any mirrors.— Lupita Nyong'o (@Lupita_Nyongo) October 1, 2019
The Us actress plugged her new children’s book, Sulwe, designed to hold a “mirror for dark-skinned children especially, to see themselves reflected, immediately.”
The 36-year-old said, “society's preference for lighter skin,” is still “alive and well.”
Colorism, society's preference for lighter skin, is alive and well. It's not just a prejudice reserved for places with a largely white population. Throughout the world, even in Kenya, even today, there is a popular sentiment that lighter is brighter.— Lupita Nyong'o (@Lupita_Nyongo) October 1, 2019
Sulwe will hit stores nationwide on October 15, 2019. According to publisher, Simon and Schuster’s, website, Sulwe is a compelling picture book addressing colorism and self-esteem. The book will teach young girls that true beauty comes from within.
The groundbreaking model’s new book isn’t the first time she called out society's insidious bias based on a person’s skin tone.
During a 2014 interview with Glamour, the Oscar winner said, “European standards of beauty are something that plagues the entire world. [It’s] the idea that darker skin is not beautiful, that light skin is the key to success and love.”
When asked if she grew up feeling beautiful, her candid response was heartbreaking.
“...In the second grade, one of my teachers said, "Where are you going to find a husband? How are you going to find someone darker than you?" I was mortified. I remember seeing a commercial where a woman goes for an interview and doesn't get the job,” described Nyong’o. “Then she puts a cream on her face to lighten her skin, and she gets the job! This is the message: that dark skin is unacceptable. I definitely wasn't hearing this from my immediate family—my mother never said anything to that effect—but the voices from the television are usually much louder than the voices of your parents.”
In 2017, Lupita also called out Grazia UK in a tweet for its eurocentric editing of her hair on the cover. The magazine responded, “Grazia is committed to representing diversity throughout its pages and apologises unreservedly to Lupita Nyong’o.”
Photo: Dia Dipasupil/WireImage