Oscar-winning actress and outspoken feminist icon Lupita Nyong’o has been advocating on behalf of women’s rights since high school - long before she was a celebrated actress.
In a recent interview, Nyong’o, who went to an all-boys high school, revealed there was a rule that barred the handful of female students from wearing makeup.
Angry about the school rule, which she found oppressive, Nyong’o started a petition to change it.
The actress told InStyle: “I went to an all-boys school for high school, and they had girls in the last two classes. This is a school with 700 boys and a handful of girls.
“At one point, there was an archaic rule that said that girls could not wear makeup to school. I was angry that the powers that be were trying to basically oppress and control the small female population. It infuriated me to the point that I started a petition,” she said.
Speaking up for her fellow female peers, as she had no interest in wearing makeup herself, Nyong’o fought for what she believed in - mainly the knowledge that her peers would not be adversely affected by wearing makeup.
“I said to myself, ‘Look, if a woman wants to wear makeup to school to feel confident in an environment where she’s a minority, why not? It doesn’t actually change whether or not she’s able to take in the information being given to her in the classroom,’” she recalled of her time at St Mary’s School in Nairobi, Kenya.
Now, as an actress and a fan of makeup, Nyong’o has found a way to blend her love of cosmetics with her platform as a woman in Hollywood.
The Black Panther star made history when she came the first black ambassador for Lancôme in 2014 - in a campaign that showcased her natural beauty and natural hair.
Of the honour and opportunity to influence the beauty industry, she told Time magazine: “I am particularly proud to represent its unique vision for women and the idea that beauty should not be dictated, but should instead be an expression of a woman’s freedom to be herself.”
However, although she loves makeup, Nyong’o explained that she does not require it to feel beautiful, and considers it more of an accessory.
“It’s something that I enjoy. It’s not the thing I rely on to feel beautiful, and I hope that a lot of women feel the same,” she told InStyle.