Lupita Nyong’s sparked a wildfire in the film and fashion industry. With her unique persona, stylish taste, and outstanding talent, the media grapples with her sudden success. The media starts off with how she won an Academy Award, following with mentions of her Kenyan background, her exotic look, and other odd praises. There is no doubt she is amazingly beautiful, supremely talented, brilliant, and stylish beyond her years, but what bothers me is the sheer novelty of it. The freak-show factor. Have we never seen a beautiful, bold, articulate African woman before? Are we so confounded with our ideals of what success and beauty looks like, that we feel the need to overcompensate, label? I am absolutely not arguing that she does not deserve all the fame and success in the world, but flabbergasted by how American culture views powerful forces such as Lupita with a sense of ignorant bewilderment. Believe me, if you took a walk along the roads of where Lupita grew up in Kenya, you will be surprised to find many educated, eloquent individuals. You will find such people in the neighborhood where my mother grew up in Mumbai, or even along the markets of Jeddah. In the U.S., where diversity is celebrated, cultures are fused, and women enjoy all the freedoms of men, we still look at people like Lupita as an anomaly. Why? It is insulting at the least. Despite living in a melting pot, we are so blissfully unaware of the ingredients that give rise to people like Lupita. Women of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds are doing remarkable things every day. There is nothing feminist about that. It is pure fact, yet still we are told to celebrate women who “go against the odds” and “make it” in industries where these things are uncommon. These odds were created by people and can easily be changed by people if we would only entertain the thought that perhaps, maybe, there are many Lupita Nyong’o’s. Perhaps, in this day an age, when progress is at every touch, we may progress in our attitudes with a more refined sociocultural awareness of our ever-shrinking world.
I love this!!