Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o has written an illustrated children’s book called Sulwe scheduled to come out in January 2019. The children’s book is about a young Kenyan girl’s journey to self-acceptance as a dark-skinned girl. The book is therefore intended to inspire dark-skinned girls (aged five to seven) as they follow Sulwe’s journey.
Sulwe is a five-year-old girl desperate to lighten her skin, as she is the darkest person in her family. ‘[She] goes on a starry-eyed adventure, and awakens with a reimagined sense of beauty. She encounters lessons that we learn as children and spend our lives unlearning. This is a story for little ones, but no matter the age I hope it serves as an inspiration for everyone to walk with joy in their own skin. Coming January 2019!!’ Lupita wrote on Instagram on Wednesday.
I am pleased to reveal that I have written a children’s book! It’s called “Sulwe”! Sulwe is a dark skinned girl who goes on a starry-eyed adventure, and awakens with a reimagined sense of beauty. She encounters lessons that we learn as children and spend our lives unlearning. This is a story for little ones, but no matter the age I hope it serves as an inspiration for everyone to walk with joy in their own skin. Coming January 2019!!
Lupita told The New York Times that she felt writing Sulwe was necessary because as a young Kenyan girl, she also battled with her self-image due to her dark skin, while her lighter sister received more praise as the ‘brown and pretty’ one.
Nyong’o has been an advocate for dark-skinned girls throughout her career, sharing little snippets of her childhood in most of her inspirational, thought-provoking speeches which she has delivered. Her 2014 Essence luncheon speech has been noted as one of the most impactful to date when it comes to addressing beauty standards:
‘… my complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome, and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing, and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy, but a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside me. When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty, but around me the preference for light-skin prevailed to the beholders that I thought mattered – I was still unbeautiful and my mother again would say to me, “you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you,” and these words played and bothered me. I didn’t really understand them until finally I realised that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume. It was something that I just had to be.’
If this speech is anything to go by, then it’s safe to say that we’re going to need Lupita Nyong’o to write more books like Sulwe for both children and adults.