Zendaya and Lupita Nyong’o at Lancôme’s announcement of Zendaya as their new global brand ambassador on February 21, 2019 in Los Angeles.
Zendaya and Lupita Nyong’o at Lancôme’s announcement of Zendaya as their new global brand ambassador on February 21, 2019 in Los Angeles.
Photo: Donato Sardella (Getty Images for Lancôme)

Martin Luther King Day is still a month away, but here at The Glow Up, we dream of a world in which little dark-skinned girls and little light-skinned girls can see themselves represented equally—and beautifully—in mainstream advertising.

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That’s why we have to give kudos to legacy cosmetics brand Lancôme, which paired its two black brand ambassadors, Lupita Nyong’o and Zendaya, in a simple yet gorgeous new ad for its Teint Idole Ultra Wear foundation, presumably to remind us of their extensive 50-shade range.

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But while Lancôme makes a great product, our takeaway is how great it is to see these two beauties looking stunning alongside each other, and the impact it may have on little girls thumbing through fashion magazines the way we once did. It may seem a small thing, but as Nyong’o noted to BBC Newsnight in October, not seeing herself reflected in mainstream media as a child was a constant reminder that she lived in “a world that rewards lighter skin over darker skin.”

As she recalled, that reality literally hit home with the compliments regularly paid to her lighter-skinned younger sister. “Self-consciously that translates into: ‘I’m not worthy’,” said Nyong’o. “We still ascribe to these notions of Eurocentric standards of beauty, that then affect how we see ourselves among ourselves,” she added.

Obviously, Nyong’o’s highly common experience makes not only her success in the film industry but her status as a beauty icon all the more significant to a new generation watching and defining future beauty standards—as well as grown women who have waited far too long to see themselves represented as aspirational beauties. With that in mind, while we’re thrilled to be seeing a broader spectrum of beauty represented across the industry, seeing Nyong’o and Zendaya’s new ad, our biggest response is:

More, please.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, an avid eyeshadow enthusiast and always her own muse. Nuance is her superpower.

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