Following the 2014 Academy Awards, this lovely video began circulating of the winner of the Supporting Actress Oscar, Lupita Nyong'o Speech on Black Beauty Essence Magazine Black Women In Hollywood Award (See below, or visit this website:)
What a beautiful witness of her own struggle with a sense of beauty, and of self-acceptance. How many other young people do we know have these struggles?
While it took the model Ilek Wek to help Lupita begin to see her own beauty, rather then just feeling the love of God, I am sure that God sent her that inspiration. It took seeing that model for Lupita to see that she was made in God's own image:
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them (Genesis 1:27 - 28a)
How do we in our ministries help teens see that they are made in God's image? How can we help them to avoid the "seduction of inadequacy" as Lupita put it -- settling as being 'less than' or less worthy?
We need to give up negative self-talk -- not like giving up for Lent, but giving up for Life.
Miss Nyongo went on to say that "Beauty is not a thing that I can acquire or consume." This, too, is an important lessen we can help our teens to learn.
Once they can see God in themselves, we can help them to see God in other people. Then comes the ability to look into someone's eyes with love. "What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion. Compassion for yourself and for those around you," she says. Compassion is an expression of love. And, since God is love (1 John 4:8), compassion is an expression of God -- what could be more lovely?
"Get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside," Miss Nyongo stated.
I add, and help others to do the same!
Cindee Case, MAPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.