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Beaver Gland Castoreum Not Used in Vanilla Flavorings According to Manufacturers ~ a follow up ?


by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director

A reader wrote to The VRG in April 2011 about a comment made by British chef, Jamie Oliver, on The Late Show with David Letterman. Mr. Oliver said that vanilla flavoring in ice cream is made with castoreum, a substance derived from beaver anal glands. The reader asked us if there was any truth to this statement.

The VRG asked five companies that manufacture both natural and artificial vanilla, vanilla extracts, concentrates, distillates, powders, and flavors. All five unanimously stated that castoreum is not used today in any form of vanilla sold for human food use.

One company, in business for ninety years, informed The VRG that they have never used castoreum in their products. “At one time,” we were told by a senior level employee at this company, “to the best of my knowledge, it was used to make fragrance and still may be.”

Companies directed us to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) which they all said they follow strictly and exclusively: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?fr=169.175

To quote the CFR, Title 21, Part 169, Subpart B, Section175 (cited as 21CFR169.175) on this point:

“…[v]anilla extract is the solution in aqueous ethyl alcohol of the sapid and odorous principles extractable from vanilla beans. In vanilla extract the content of ethyl alcohol is not less than 35 percent by volume…The vanilla constituent may be extracted directly from vanilla beans or it may be added in the form of concentrated vanilla extract or concentrated vanilla flavoring or vanilla flavoring concentrated to the semisolid form called vanilla oleo-resin. Vanilla extract may contain one or more of the following optional ingredients:
(1) Glycerin. (2) Propylene glycol. (3) Sugar (including invert sugar). (4) Dextrose. (5) Corn sirup (including dried corn sirup). (VRG Note: spelling appears exactly as is from the original.)
(b)(1) The specified name of the food is ‘Vanilla extract’ or ‘Extract of vanilla’.
(2) When the vanilla extract is made in whole or in part by dilution of vanilla oleoresin, concentrated vanilla extract, or concentrated vanilla flavoring, the label shall bear the statement ‘Made from ___’ or ‘Made in part from ___’, the blank being filled in with the name or names ‘vanilla oleoresin’, ‘concentrated vanilla extract’, or ‘concentrated vanilla flavoring’, as appropriate…”

Section 177 of this subpart in the CFR Title 21 specifies requirements for vanilla flavoring:

“…[v]anilla flavoring conforms to the definition and standard of identity and is subject to any requirement for label statement of ingredients prescribed for vanilla extract by 169.175, except that its content of ethyl alcohol is less than 35 percent by volume.

(b) The specified name of the food is Vanilla flavoring.”

A major ingredients supplier that sells both natural and artificial vanilla extracts, concentrates, distillates, and flavors to many food companies told us this about some of their vanilla flavorings: “The flavor itself contains proprietary information that cannot be shared but it’s made from a combination of raw materials, such as vanillin, vanitrope, heliotropin, and maltol.” (VRG Note: All ingredients in this list are either all-vegetable or synthetic.) We were also informed by this company when The VRG asked specifically about castoreum in food ingredients: “…It’s not a common raw material that is used and we don’t use it, so I can safely say that our natural vanilla flavors do not contain any animal juices. All vanilla extracts are free of it, too, wherever you go.”

What is true is that castoreum is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and so approved for use in foods by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (A few other animal-derived ingredients including ambergris (whale-derived) and musk (civet-derived) also have GRAS status and so may be ingredients in products intended for humans): http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=582.50

According to G.A. Burdock in a 2007 article published in the International Journal of Toxicology, “Castoreum extract… is a natural product prepared by direct hot-alcohol extraction of castoreum, the dried and macerated castor sac scent glands (and their secretions) from the male or female beaver. It has been used extensively in perfumery and has been added to food as a flavor ingredient for at least 80 years. Both the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regard castoreum extract as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).”

When castoreum occurs in a food, it does not have to be listed by its name. It is considered a “natural flavor” and may be so designated on a food package according to the CFR: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=501.22

Readers who are doubtful of a particular brand listing “natural flavors” as ingredients are encouraged to call the food’s manufacturer and specifically request detail on which “natural flavor(s)” is/are present in the food.

For updates on vanilla flavor and other food ingredients, subscribe to our free e-newsletter at http://www.vrg.org/vrgnews/
Readers may wish to purchase our Guide to Food Ingredients available at http://www.vrg.org/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=8

To support VRG research, go to https://www.givedirect.org/give/givefrm.asp?CID=1565

The contents of this blog, website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

– See more at: http://www.vrg.org/blog/2011/06/17/beaver-gland-castoreum-not-used-in-vanilla-flavorings-according-to-manufacturers/#sthash.W09gMLrl.dpuf

by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director

A reader wrote to The VRG in April 2011 about a comment made by British chef, Jamie Oliver, on The Late Show with David Letterman. Mr. Oliver said that vanilla flavoring in ice cream is made with castoreum, a substance derived from beaver anal glands. The reader asked us if there was any truth to this statement.

The VRG asked five companies that manufacture both natural and artificial vanilla, vanilla extracts, concentrates, distillates, powders, and flavors. All five unanimously stated that castoreum is not used today in any form of vanilla sold for human food use.

One company, in business for ninety years, informed The VRG that they have never used castoreum in their products. “At one time,” we were told by a senior level employee at this company, “to the best of my knowledge, it was used to make fragrance and still may be.”

Companies directed us to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) which they all said they follow strictly and exclusively: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?fr=169.175

To quote the CFR, Title 21, Part 169, Subpart B, Section175 (cited as 21CFR169.175) on this point:

“…[v]anilla extract is the solution in aqueous ethyl alcohol of the sapid and odorous principles extractable from vanilla beans. In vanilla extract the content of ethyl alcohol is not less than 35 percent by volume…The vanilla constituent may be extracted directly from vanilla beans or it may be added in the form of concentrated vanilla extract or concentrated vanilla flavoring or vanilla flavoring concentrated to the semisolid form called vanilla oleo-resin. Vanilla extract may contain one or more of the following optional ingredients:
(1) Glycerin. (2) Propylene glycol. (3) Sugar (including invert sugar). (4) Dextrose. (5) Corn sirup (including dried corn sirup). (VRG Note: spelling appears exactly as is from the original.)
(b)(1) The specified name of the food is ‘Vanilla extract’ or ‘Extract of vanilla’.
(2) When the vanilla extract is made in whole or in part by dilution of vanilla oleoresin, concentrated vanilla extract, or concentrated vanilla flavoring, the label shall bear the statement ‘Made from ___’ or ‘Made in part from ___’, the blank being filled in with the name or names ‘vanilla oleoresin’, ‘concentrated vanilla extract’, or ‘concentrated vanilla flavoring’, as appropriate…”

Section 177 of this subpart in the CFR Title 21 specifies requirements for vanilla flavoring:

“…[v]anilla flavoring conforms to the definition and standard of identity and is subject to any requirement for label statement of ingredients prescribed for vanilla extract by 169.175, except that its content of ethyl alcohol is less than 35 percent by volume.

(b) The specified name of the food is Vanilla flavoring.”

A major ingredients supplier that sells both natural and artificial vanilla extracts, concentrates, distillates, and flavors to many food companies told us this about some of their vanilla flavorings: “The flavor itself contains proprietary information that cannot be shared but it’s made from a combination of raw materials, such as vanillin, vanitrope, heliotropin, and maltol.” (VRG Note: All ingredients in this list are either all-vegetable or synthetic.) We were also informed by this company when The VRG asked specifically about castoreum in food ingredients: “…It’s not a common raw material that is used and we don’t use it, so I can safely say that our natural vanilla flavors do not contain any animal juices. All vanilla extracts are free of it, too, wherever you go.”

What is true is that castoreum is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and so approved for use in foods by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (A few other animal-derived ingredients including ambergris (whale-derived) and musk (civet-derived) also have GRAS status and so may be ingredients in products intended for humans): http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=582.50

According to G.A. Burdock in a 2007 article published in the International Journal of Toxicology, “Castoreum extract… is a natural product prepared by direct hot-alcohol extraction of castoreum, the dried and macerated castor sac scent glands (and their secretions) from the male or female beaver. It has been used extensively in perfumery and has been added to food as a flavor ingredient for at least 80 years. Both the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regard castoreum extract as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).”

When castoreum occurs in a food, it does not have to be listed by its name. It is considered a “natural flavor” and may be so designated on a food package according to the CFR: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=501.22

Readers who are doubtful of a particular brand listing “natural flavors” as ingredients are encouraged to call the food’s manufacturer and specifically request detail on which “natural flavor(s)” is/are present in the food.

For updates on vanilla flavor and other food ingredients, subscribe to our free e-newsletter at http://www.vrg.org/vrgnews/
Readers may wish to purchase our Guide to Food Ingredients available at http://www.vrg.org/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=8

To support VRG research, go to https://www.givedirect.org/give/givefrm.asp?CID=1565

The contents of this blog, website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

– See more at: http://www.vrg.org/blog/2011/06/17/beaver-gland-castoreum-not-used-in-vanilla-flavorings-according-to-manufacturers/#sthash.W09gMLrl.dpuf

beever-sac-400x400Posted on June 17, 2011 by The VRG Blog Editor

VRG Research Director

A reader wrote to The VRG in April 2011 about a comment made by British chef, Jamie Oliver, on The Late Show with David Letterman. Mr. Oliver said that vanilla flavoring in ice cream is made with castoreum, a substance derived from beaver anal glands. The reader asked us if there was any truth to this statement.

The VRG asked five companies that manufacture both natural and artificial vanilla, vanilla extracts, concentrates, distillates, powders, and flavors. All five unanimously stated that castoreum is not used today in any form of vanilla sold for human food use.

One company, in business for ninety years, informed The VRG that they have never used castoreum in their products. “At one time,” we were told by a senior level employee at this company, “to the best of my knowledge, it was used to make fragrance and still may be.”

Companies directed us to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) which they all said they follow strictly and exclusively: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?fr=169.175

To quote the CFR, Title 21, Part 169, Subpart B, Section175 (cited as 21CFR169.175) on this point:

   “…[v]anilla extract is the solution in aqueous ethyl alcohol of the sapid and odorous principles extractable from vanilla beans. In vanilla extract the content of ethyl alcohol is not less than 35 percent by volume…The vanilla constituent may be extracted directly from vanilla beans or it may be added in the form of concentrated vanilla extract or concentrated vanilla flavoring or vanilla flavoring concentrated to the semisolid form called vanilla oleo-resin. Vanilla extract may contain one or more of the following optional ingredients:

   (1) Glycerin. (2) Propylene glycol. (3) Sugar (including invert sugar). (4) Dextrose. (5) Corn sirup (including dried corn sirup). (VRG Note: spelling appears exactly as is from the original.)

   (b)(1) The specified name of the food is ‘Vanilla extract’ or ‘Extract of vanilla’.

   (2) When the vanilla extract is made in whole or in part by dilution of vanilla oleoresin, concentrated vanilla extract, or concentrated vanilla flavoring, the label shall bear the statement ‘Made from ___’ or ‘Made in part from ___’, the blank being filled in with the name or names ‘vanilla oleoresin’, ‘concentrated vanilla extract’, or ‘concentrated vanilla flavoring’, as appropriate…”

Section 177 of this subpart in the CFR Title 21 specifies requirements for vanilla flavoring:

“…[v]anilla flavoring conforms to the definition and standard of identity and is subject to any requirement for label statement of ingredients prescribed for vanilla extract by 169.175, except that its content of ethyl alcohol is less than 35 percent by volume.

(b) The specified name of the food is Vanilla flavoring.”

A major ingredients supplier that sells both natural and artificial vanilla extracts, concentrates, distillates, and flavors to many food companies told us this about some of their vanilla flavorings: “The flavor itself contains proprietary information that cannot be shared but it’s made from a combination of raw materials, such as vanillin, vanitrope, heliotropin, and maltol.” (VRG Note: All ingredients in this list are either all-vegetable or synthetic.) We were also informed by this company when The VRG asked specifically about castoreum in food ingredients: “…It’s not a common raw material that is used and we don’t use it, so I can safely say that our natural vanilla flavors do not contain any animal juices. All vanilla extracts are free of it, too, wherever you go.”

What is true is that castoreum is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and so approved for use in foods by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (A few other animal-derived ingredients including ambergris (whale-derived) and musk (civet-derived) also have GRAS status and so may be ingredients in products intended for humans): http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=582.50

According to G.A. Burdock in a 2007 article published in the International Journal of Toxicology, “Castoreum extract… is a natural product prepared by direct hot-alcohol extraction of castoreum, the dried and macerated castor sac scent glands (and their secretions) from the male or female beaver. It has been used extensively in perfumery and has been added to food as a flavor ingredient for at least 80 years. Both the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regard castoreum extract as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).”

When castoreum occurs in a food, it does not have to be listed by its name. It is considered a “natural flavor” and may be so designated on a food package according to the CFR: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=501.22

Readers who are doubtful of a particular brand listing “natural flavors” as ingredients are encouraged to call the food’s manufacturer and specifically request detail on which “natural flavor(s)” is/are present in the food.

 For updates on vanilla flavor and other food ingredients, subscribe to our free e-newsletter at http://www.vrg.org/vrgnews/

Readers may wish to purchase our Guide to Food Ingredients available at http://www.vrg.org/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=8

 To support VRG research, go to https://www.givedirect.org/give/givefrm.asp?CID=1565

 The contents of this blog, website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

 

 

– See more at: http://www.vrg.org/blog/2011/06/17/beaver-gland-castoreum-not-used-in-vanilla-flavorings-according-to-manufacturers/#sthash.W09gMLrl.dpuf by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Say it isn’t so … fun facts while folks are eating ice cream


beever-sac-400x400

So, I got an email on Monday, saying oh… , and Justin Gammill had more to share about “natural flavorings,” turns out, so do I. I was informed by my fams that ice cream more often than not was homemade and our mom only used pure vanilla extract when vanilla was needed! Whew! So, at least 20years of my life were “Vanilla flavouring,” free, though the fact is anything that has a scent probably includes … Castoreum ~~ from you know where. I also came across a 2011 article from http://vrg.org ,  was posted separately.

My first post is below … continuity for updates of course

 I was looking through my email a few days ago and came across an article about ice cream and the heading gave me the impression something seemingly vile was being put in it and had to find out. I love and eat all kinds of ice cream all year round because of its ice creamy goodness.

However, disclaimer … with cancer, things have been adjusted! please eat fruit bars etc.  I was in and felt like a reasonable and rationalization phase, thinking ok, I can find out which ice cream brands actually list all of their ingredients and omit those that have the “natural flavoring”  buying only those who don’t use you know what from you know where! A secretion sac. Then I found out that Castoreum, is used for beauty products and sadly, that was not all.

The article by Justin Gammill was well written I laughed but I cannot lie it pissed me off to find out that my obsession for vanilla was … extracted from my heart. I have been a vanilla lovin fool since my crayon days second to coconut and included in my group of extraordinary smells; I love, obsess over, and have used for years. While I love cinnamon and almond too, vanilla was … yes, was my go-to after Coconut then Shea butter for the skin the others for all things used on our skin eat and drink. I admit the article brought out feelings of sadness as well as sounds of ick, ewwww,  ugh of what must happen to the animal giving up their secretions let alone who how why did someone decide, uh um uh let’s take that beaver sac and see what we can do with its stuff. I am definitely frowning about the slap of ugly reality of “natural flavorings” knowing it had to come from somewhere and that was bad enough, but to research it a little more and read what health.com has to say:

“Where you’ll find it: On both female &male Beavers ~ Castoreum! “While it sounds downright disgusting, the FDA says it’s GRAS, meaning it’s “generally recognized as safe.” You won’t see Castoreum on the food label because it’s generally listed as “natural flavoring.” It’s natural all right—naturally icky.”

Today, Castoreum is used as a tincture in some perfumes[5] as a food additive, perfumes cigarettes, bee keepers use it and there are medicinal uses as well. Apparently, back in the 18th Century, they thought Castoreum induced abortions among other things and helped headaches too … goodness, don’t tell your favourite Republican because they will suggest putting that between your knees too !

All kidding aside, this stuff is worth a lot per sac.

Resources: wiki, the internet, health.com and Justin’s article

Step away from the lightener – reminder


 just another ongoing rant 

So,  the heat is turnt up all over the country and this is about the time when some folks start to do stuff to themselves… right? in what seems to be a great vehicle for both comedy and exposure of an awful practice that non-white men and women do is back in the news ~~ skin whitening. What made me sad among the obvious is how comical it is but, Comedian and  risk-taker, Nick Cannon created a new character named, “Connor Smallnut.”  I have to admit seeing him in WhiteFace was concerning as I heard myself gasp! Why? We don’t like folks in “blackface,” felt this cannot be good, but it actually exposes what seems to be a growing practice in the US … skin whitening, specifically by non-whites.

Here we are in 2020 people, and those pictures above are from 2/11/2018!  I saw a picture of Sammy Sosa in a cowboy outfit …no problem but looking at the photo apparently his skin is still being bleached and though I am no expert it doesn’t look like the skin is holding up …

My problem years ago as stated, again and again, is when the industry says lighter brighter whiter is better and gets you more work!

In October of 2013, disturbing news regarding skin whitening popped up and now, I find myself having to update my post from 5/28. I get a lot of digital news and while going through it, out pops an article … not the first, this was an attempt to voice a personal experience, knowledge of Skin Whitening products, how widespread it is, and who may be using it to improve their careers. I admit… I wondered what Century are we in and will common sense prevail.  I welcome all those willing to shine a light on this terrible practice and maybe a jab or two at those promoting this awful practice. However, I did find that folks continue to pull MJ into the skin whitening practice and I would like to say and clear up something ~~  MJ did have vitiligo … the end.

In 2009, reports were that Asians spent an estimated $18 billion a year to appear pale. Today, this Billion dollar business is … in my opinion taking advantage of women of all races, their personal insecurities in an industry that has created among other things bobbleheads, eating disorders, height/weight anxiety,  liquid diets, long hair syndrome and many more creative ways that make folks unsuredoubtfulhesitantself-conscious, making them reactive not proactive. Apparently, otherwise reasonably smart folks believe lighter brighter and whiter is more likely to increase your status as well. I will say it again, it is sad and very disturbing

I have to ask why after reading that in the year 2013 well-known entertainers are using Skin Whitening products to cross over for more acceptance or work.  It would be easy to say … FYI, you’re still who you were before bleaching your skin but the practice begs the question … are you getting more work, more hits on your site and more folks are hitting on you … what?

because …

No matter how light you go your personality is only as good as your authenticity …

~ Nativegrl77

Injectable Skin Lightening Products: What You Should Know – repost


 

So, it’s June of 2020, are you using skin lightener brightener whitener still ? oh, is it still avail because year after year …skip a few this stuff gets recalled … wonder why?

In September 2014, U.S. Marshals seized a variety of unapproved, improperly labeled and potentially harmful injectable drugs being marketed as skin whitening products, including the Relumins Advanced Glutathione kits and Tatiomax Glutathione Collagen Whitening kits shown above.

09/02/2015 01:00 PM EDT

Injectable skin lightening products are unapproved, untested drugs that could potentially cause harm, FDA warns. FDA has not approved any injectable drugs for skin whitening or lightening.

“These products pose a potentially significant safety risk to consumers. You’re essentially injecting an unknown substance into your body—you don’t know what it contains or how it was made,” says In Kim, a pharmacist at FDA.

Read the Consumer Update to learn more.

Related Consumer News

Lupita Nyong’o and skin whitener ~repost reminder …a lifeline


Wethepeople

In this era of trump …a repost was needed

So, this speech given by Lupita Nyong’o was at the Essence Magazine 7th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in Beverly Hills, California, USA, she was honoured with the Breakthrough Performance Award. It was 2014

I had to read and re-read the speech below because she addressed my own call for People of Colour to STOP the practice of skin whitening. This practice is far from new, it has unfortunately become a billion dollar snake that needs its head cut off, a severe reprimand of those who push white is right, begin to provide services that help those who hate themselves and the skin they live in. The speech is beyond illuminating lest we say eloquent and she addressed a letter, in which she talked about a fan who wrote to her about hating her dark skin so much she had bought the controversial skin lightening cream by Dencia called Whitenicious …Lupita spoke about Dencia’s skin bleaching cream, her own issues with hating her dark skin as a teenager & more … below

Lupita’s speech:

I wrote down this speech, I had no time to practice so this will be the practicing session.

Thank you Alfre, for such an amazing, amazing introduction and celebration of my work. And thank you very much for inviting me to be a part of such an extraordinary community.

I am surrounded by people who have inspired me, women in particular whose presence on screen made me feel a little more seen and heard and understood. That it is ESSENCE that holds this event celebrating our professional gains of the year is significant, a beauty magazine that recognizes the beauty that we not just possess but also produce.

I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty, Black beauty, dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: “Dear Lupita,” it reads, “I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.”

My heart bled a little when I read those words, I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.

I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before. I tried to negotiate with God, I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted, I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.

And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no conservation, she’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then…Alek Wek. A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me, when I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny.

Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty. But around me the preference for my skin prevailed, to the courters that I thought mattered I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you and these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.

And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsey in so much trouble with her master, but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit even after the beauty of her body has faded away.

And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.

There is no shame in Black beauty.

 Lupita’s  speech  is a letter filled with humor , love and a lot of wisdom for little girls of colour from 1 – 98 who need to be taught self-love while the entertainment business needs to accept that POC come in all colours shapes sizes, speak differently and some of us don’t sing or dance, but plenty of us have great talent that should be accepted without having to make drastic changes to our features like skin whitening to get a part or a job …crossover

~~ Nativegrl77