Vanity Fair is under fire for a photo it took of Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong'o. The problem is not that it's racy, but rather people are calling it racist. The trouble began after the magazine tweeted a shot from a recent shoot the 12 Years a Slave star did for the magazine. In the image, she looks gorgeous but noticeably lighter. It has fans wondering if the magazine made her look a different color on purpose. Take a look for yourself:
Readers took issue with the image immediately.
@GoldieTaylor tweeted, "Dear @VanityFair Why would you do this?"
@deluxvivens wrote, "did vanity fair seriously lighten lupita's picture? really? did this happen?"
@3ristar added, "She's a natural beauty...why did you have to lighten her up?"
Of course we don't know what Vanity Fair's intentions were. They have not released a statement about the issue yet. But there is no denying the actress looks a lot lighter than she actually is.
To be fair, this all could be unintentional. I have spent most of my career working for glossy magazines and lighting is a big part of photo shoots ... a lot of lighting. As are bright backgrounds, clothing, etc. All of those factors can make a person look lighter, no matter what your complexion is. It's just a lot more obvious on darker-skinned people.
However, I would be lying if I said lightening up darker-skinned stars never happened in the past. And there have been similar scandals involving Gabourey Sidibe and Beyonce. The reason it is so upsetting to many woman of color is the message it sends. It says that our skin isn't pretty enough, isn't good enough. It can really be a hit to someone's self-esteem. A lot of darker-toned girls battle with issues of self-esteem because of their skin. The reason? The most celebrated women, the images held up as the most beautiful, rarely look like them.
But in all honestly, this was likely just the effect of the lighting, filters, and the normal retouching that goes into every photo in a magazine. Lupita has yet to make a statement or come out against the image. I just hope this scandal -- if we can even call it that -- isn't overshadowing the joy she should feel for winning the Critics Choice Award and the possibility of winning an Oscar.
Do you think Vanity Fair lightened Lupita's skin on purpose?
Image via Getty