GQ-Men-Year-PartyA group of 20 nine and 10-year-old African-American girls at Chicago’s Dewey Elementary Academy of Fine Arts agreed that a woman with short, kinky hair wasn’t beautiful – until Ladon Brumfield, the director of a project empowering young girls, passed around a photo of Lupita Nyong’o.

The girls fell silent. And then again, their answer was unanimous but completely different from their original response: Nyong’o is beautiful.

“It’s like they had to make a mental readjustment,” says Brumfield, founder of Girls Rule! “This was in conflict with the overwhelming imagery they receive from the media about having to have long hair.”

But perhaps media can help shape the image that short hair is beautiful, too.

Dawn Turner Trice, reporter for the Chicago Tribune, writes:

But now, thanks in part to Nyong’o, it’s the TWA, or teenie-weenie Afro, that’s getting a second look and expanding notions of beauty into territory where it really hasn’t taken root before – the larger culture.


But can we give all due credit to Nyong’o?

Turner Trice does recognize that celebs like Viola Davis, Danai Gurira, Alek Wek, and Grace Jones have worn super-short naturals. But she explains that Nyong’o is a special case because she’s accepted as “both media darling and graceful beauty” outside the black community. A prime example is her new contract with Lancome.

Co-founder of the Kiss My Curls blog, Candace Peterson, hopes Nyong’o will inspire girls to love their hair length and texture and carry themselves with poise.

“Lupita’s look is something I’d never seen before [as a standard of beauty] in Hollywood,” Peterson says. “Maybe I’m an optimist, but I hope she represents a shift. You never know what will make a difference in a child’s life. Maybe by seeing someone who looks like her, she can feel more self-assured and brave.”

Clutchettes, do you think Lupita can shift society’s view of beauty?

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  • SayWhat

    I would love it if her hairstylist posted tutorials on her hairstyles, they are versatile, I don’t know how they manage to add pieces to such a short look and make it look seamless.

    • Von

      IMO,she looks better without the added hair. Let her rock her hair as it is. What many think that adds to ones beauty, actually subtracts from it. Lupita is beautiful just the way she was created and she doesn’t need any artificial additions to enhance her beauty.

  • kiki80

    The Chicago Tribune ain’t ****. They had the nerve to attach that old-as-dirt story about Michael Jordan and his white woman to undermine any positive effects of the natural hair story.

  • joe

    Whether or not the Hollywood and fashion elite believe Lupita is beautiful should not matter to us. We really need to stop seeking validation from people who have historically dismissed our humanity and beauty. White folks don’t care whether or not we find them attractive. We need to adopt that same attitude towards them.

  • Chauntelle

    All the women mentioned above are all beautiful and are media darlings. Why do we always have to get approval from others for our beauty. Man, go head on. I am so sick of reading about these types of articles.

    • copelli21

      I agree with you 100%.

      Since Lupita’s been embraced by white people suddenly brown-skinned women with TWAs are now legitimately beautiful!? That’s some bulls&8t. That’s just giving white people too much power.

      This cult of celebrity is just way to influential now and that’s problematic.

  • Von

    It’s doesn’t matter whether Lupita can change peoples perceptions of what’s beautiful, because she alone can not change the mind-sets of individuals who have internalized self-hatred. It all starts at home, and no matter what society says, parents can teach their children to have a strong sense of self that no one can dismantle.

    Lupita is only one of many women who are of a darker hue who wear their hair in it’s natural state and happen to be celebrities. Folks keep referring to the white media for perpetuating this issue, but the reality is that it’s the black media who ignores the beauty of women who look like her. Sometimes Essence gets it right and sometimes they don’t.

    I’ll see more women who look like Lupita in a mainstream magazine way before I see them in one marketed to black women. It was in mainstream magazines where I first heard of: Lupita, Danai, Tika, Adepero, Samira, Uzo, Teyonah, Shanola and several other black actresses who have huge fan bases, but are ignored by the black mainstream media. Many of you know why, but are in a state of denial and want to keep pointing out the white mainstream media. Our validation is not their responsibility.

    The sad reality is that today’s so called black mainstream media no-longer exists because non of them are solely black owned anymore and the ones that are out there, mimic everything the white mainstream medias does by only promoting who they deem as popular.

    Have any of you seen Lupita grace the covers of any of the so-called black magazines lately? Stock photos from Getty Images do not count, because we’ve seen them online. After winning her Oscar, one would have thought she’d at least have a Jet cover accepting her Oscar. Nada!

    • ALM247

      @Von Great observations