Honoring beauty of Lupita Nyong’o is fine – but what’s next for her and other ‘dark girls’

It’s fitting that the journey of Lupita Nyong’o has come full circle. In her widely seen and admired speech at the annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon earlier this year, she told her story of feeling “un-beautiful” until images such as model Alek Wek, actress Whoopi Goldberg and icon Oprah Winfrey filled the screen and the scene. Their success helped the lessons of Nyong’o’s mother – who valued her daughter’s inner and outer worth – finally sink in.

With her spot on the cover of People magazine’s “Most Beautiful” issue, little girls who claim the same kind of natural beauty, buoyed up by intelligence and compassion, might take heart. The documentary “Dark Girls” recorded the hurts, insults and very real discrimination they and their grown-up sisters have suffered. Nyong’o told People that when she was growing up she thought beauty meant “light skin and long, flowing, straight hair.” Now, like Goldberg, she has a best-supporting actress Academy Award. The latest magazine cover is icing on the cake.