Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o is writing a children’s book about a 5-year-old Kenyan girl’s journey to accepting and loving her dark-skinned complexion. Sulwe, the titular protagonist in Nyong’o’s story, is the darkest person in her family and is obsessed with lightening her skin before going on a fantastical journey that leads her to appreciate her skin tone.

Nyong’o told the New York Times that she struggled with herown  complexion and self-image as a child. In 2014, the Black Panther actress used a speech at an Essence luncheon to speak to a young fan who reached out to her and told her that seeing her onscreen lead her to not bleach her own dark skin. “I hope that my presence on your screens and in magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel validation of your external beauty, but also, get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.”

Even though Nyong’o is aiming the book at children around ages 5-7, she says that she hopes that people of all ages can take the book’s message of self-love and challenging beauty standards to heart. Additionally, the actress and author says that it is critical to target these ages because it is at this age that ideas about beauty and what makes a person beautiful and accepted are being formed and cemented in the minds of children.

Sulwe will be published in January 2019 by Simon and Schuster.

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