“See Me, Not Just My Skin

Lupita 2If you listened closely on the morning of April 23, you could have heard a chorus of hot diggity whoops from all across the globe when People Magazine announced the news that Lupita Nyong’o was named its Most Beautiful Person in The World for 2014.

The breakout star has had a stunning year with a string of top awards for the film, 12 Years a Slave, a contract as the new face of Lancome and a spot on just about every best-dressed list you could name after a series of white hot appearances on the red carpet.

So, the People Magazine honor was not exactly a surprise, Julia Roberts and Julianna Margulies offered a special kind of validation in a country where beauty standards have long revolved around long hair and light skin. The actress, who said she “got teased and taunted about her night-shaded skin” herself acknowledged the significance of her Most Beautiful honor saying, “I was happy for all the girls who would see me… and feel a little more seen.”

dark_call outYou will gain a special meaning for what Nyong’o is saying if you engage in this exercise — put the words dark and skin in the search field here at The Race Card Project and take a look at what pops up. We have posted the results below. Scan these Six Word Stories. Take the time to absorb the explanations behind the six word essays by clicking the “read more” link. One man who thinks his mother secretly hated his dark skin used to scrub with comet hoping to lighten his hue. We get so many submissions with the phrase, “ You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl” that we have stopped keeping count. The candor will take your breath away.

skin_call outAs you take in these personal stories, perhaps remember one more thing Lupita Nyong’o said at the Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in February where she won an award for Breakout Star of the year. In her acceptance speech, she talked about how young girls — especially young girls of color with darker skin — see themselves.

tumblr_n1vis7Gk9w1qjcrwyo1_500“I hope my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead 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.”

Listen to ’12 Years A Slave’ Inspires ‘True Conversations’ About Slavery on NPR’s Morning Edition