Lupita Nyong’o is the most beautiful woman in the world. But People Magazine, who’ve placed her on the cover of their “Most Beautiful” issue, is late. We knew her looks were amazing last year as she dazzled the red carpets of every awards show in her presidential like campaign to win the coveted best supporting actress Academy Award for her emotionally riveting performance as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. Every carpet walked, Lupita looked glamorous different. Whether rocking a high top faded ode to the 80s. Or a cute, short natural shaped up so tight that she put brothers to shame.
And now, after the Oscar, Critics choice award, SAG, and recent MTV movie award, Lupita graces the cover of People deemed the “Most Beautiful” among a list of 50 named yearly over the past 25 years. The honor has been bestowed on everyone from Michelle Pfeiffer – the first – to Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Roberts. Lupita is just the third woman of African descent to make the cover, after Beyoncé in 2012 and Halle Berry in 2003.
To see a sweet chocolate lady on the cover of a magazine prone to featuring mostly those of a milky white tone – marks a moment that The Shadow League must make note of. Especially when Lupita – Mexican born, Kenyan by roots – has been vocal about hating the color of her skin. “I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin. I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first,” said the 31-year-old in February when receiving her Best Breakthrough Performance Award at Essence Magazine’s Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. “And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I had been the day before. I tried to negotiate with God: I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted; I would listen to my mother's every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.”
But God listened, in a away, forcing Lupita and the world to embrace her Afro-cutey looks. As the newest face of Lancôme Cosmetics, her fly image and brave words have forced everyone to reconsider their preconceived notions of what beauty is, and how heavily beholders are influenced by images seen in the media. Let’s hope other magazines will be like People, push the diversity envelope, embrace their influential power, and follow.