Every woman, from the time she is a girl, experiences the pressure to conform to external standards of beauty. These expectations vary from place to place and over time, but they are always present. Messages and images from the movies and television, as well as relentless advertising everywhere we look, tell us that we are never quite up to the standard. This is a heavy burden for all women, but it can be particularly hard for girls and adolescents who are learning to fully become the person they wish to be. One of the most pervasive and cruel aspects of the beauty standard is skin color. White women suffer skin damage from sun tanning machines as they try to darken their skin, while in Thailand there is an expectation that women must have fair skin to be considered beautiful. Even the slightest darker shade of brown can provoke harsh discrimination and prejudice. Taking advantage of this, the cosmetic industry pushes thousands of products meant to whiten our skin. Even deodorant now has whitening chemicals, as if it matters what shade of brown our underarms are.
We need to teach our daughters, and sons, to think differently and to value all colors. We need to teach children to emphasize their essential, inner beauty and to have compassion for themselves and for each other. This week I would like to share a remarkable speech by Oscar winning actress Lupita Nyong’o. Lupita is a young, beautiful and dark black woman with extraordinary poise and talent. Listen to her thoughts about the beauty standard, skin color, the “seduction of inadequacy”, and “the deeper business of being beautiful inside”. Think carefully and enjoy! Click here; Lupita speech on skin color and beauty