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African American visual artists have long expressed concern about a form of social oppression that is aesthetic: the bias against African features in the perception of black women’s beauty. Visual artists countered this bias with so many delineations of dark women’s beauty during the second half of the 20th century that such imagery finally became a worn expression in “fine art,” unless executed in a highly original way. In visual media in general, however, the overall image of black feminine beauty has not been proportionately distributed along the African end of the spectrum. Now some cultural observers wonder if Lupita Nyong'o’s dazzling sweep through the 2014 entertainment awards season, capped with her Oscar win, will lead to widespread recognition of the beauty she exudes? Will the aesthetic oppression of black women finally be eradicated in visual …
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