By Mwabi Kaira
In the ongoing conversation about skin hues and how uncomfortable the world seems to be with dark skin, Academy award winner Lupita Nyong’o has fared well and seems to have come through pretty unscathed since emerging in the public eye back in 2013. Other than former NBA player Gilbert Arenas dumb remarks about Lupita only being cute with the lights off, Lupita is a media darling and well loved and accepted. She is a red carpet favorite and always makes the best dressed lists. She has been on the cover of multiple magazines including Vogue, Elle, Essence, In Style, Marie Claire, Glamour, and was even named one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful while making the cover. She is the face of Lancome ads, and has dolls made in her likeness. Her poise and classiness are bar none and the fact that she has accomplished everything while celebrating her natural beauty make her the epitome of black girl magic.
Lupita will team with Simon & Schuster to write her debut children’s book “Sulwe.”
The picture book is aimed at readers between the ages of 5 and 7. “Sulwe,” means “star” in Luo, Lupita’s native tongue and is the story of a 5-year-old girl growing up in Kenya. Sulwe has the darkest skin color in her family, a fact that makes her uncomfortable and determined to find a way to lighten her skin. As the story unfolds, Sulwe embarks on a whimsical adventure in the night sky that, coupled with advice from her mother, helps her see beauty differently.
Lupita was not always the self-confident Goddess we know now and gave a speech about it in 2014 at an Essence Women in Hollywood Luncheon. The speech went viral and was a pivotal point for young girls who thought lightening their skin would make them feel more beautiful. She encouraged them by saying,
“I hope that my presence on your screens and in magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel validation of your external beauty, but also, get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.”
The speech going viral is where the idea of “Sulwe” was born explains Lupita,
“I felt really grateful that it had this impact and at that time it occurred to me that there was an audience that this was resonating with, but the age group that really needed to hear this wouldn’t necessarily hear the speech.”
Dark skin is not just an issue in predominantly African countries; South America, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, and South Korea are all countries who sell skin lightening creams. The sad untrue belief is that lighter skin gives you a better life. Sulwe’s story will resonate with children from all over the world and teach them that self love and acceptance are the key. Children learn life lessons at an early age and books are a huge way in which they learn.
“Sulwe” will hit the shelves next January. Will you buy it?