Lupita Nyong’o recently won an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role as Patsy in the movie 12 Years A Slave. She is a highly acclaimed actor and director who has redefined the concept of outer beauty and exemplifies her inner beauty through her words. In her epic speech at Essence’s 7th Annual Black Women in Hollywood event, she said the words, “seduction by inadequacy” and the whole room audibly gasped.
Why did they gasp? Everyone in the room identified with this feeling at some point in their lives. It resonated with them, and by extension viewers worldwide. They all could relate to it.
Inadequacy disguises itself as the world’s expectations. Inadequacy stems from physical, moral and societal standards. Issues relating to complexion, hair colour, weight gain or weight loss are prevalent in everyone’s lives. How do I look? Am I fat in this outfit? The camera puts on ten pounds. Skinny vs. fat. This feeling of inadequacy transcends gender and sexuality.
Inadequacy also revolves around religion and faith. How does one proclaim to be one way and act the other? Many suffer from hypocrisy. Inadequacy develops from societal expectations and standards. People are so caught up with the tangible: car, house and job. They forget or misplace the importance of the intangible, relationships with family, friends and the Divine. Inadequacy felt in faith and religion and affects the balance of life.
The crux of the matter lies in the way to combat this seduction by inadequacy. It does not happen overnight. It is a gradual process: step by step, little by little. It can take days, weeks, months and even years to have the ability to deduce the inadequacy in life and reduce the occurrence of seduction. Inadequacy beckons, flirts and titillates. Live against life’s norms for a while. When society thinks that it is strange and eccentric, that is a sign that inadequacy is no longer tolerated and adequacy has taken its place.
Lupita urged her listeners to get on with the business of inner beauty. Get on with the business of being seduced by adequacy. Eliminate negativity and don’t be afraid to fly.