The appearance of actress Lupita Nyong'o at the Tony Awards 2023 on Sunday night caused a stir among fans and critics alike due to her choice of outfit — a breast plate created by Pakistani artist and fashion designer Misha Japanwala.
The 40-year-old actress turned heads in the racy silver attire, which accentuated her bust and midriff. The breast plate was paired with chic black flared trousers, completing her bold ensemble.
Five weeks ago and in another bolt from the blue, Nyong'o went bald in yet another dramatic fashion change-over. Yesterday, she took to her Instagram, captioning the photos of her outfit with gratitude and empowerment. She said she felt "honoured, humbled, strengthened, and energised" to wear the breastplate created by Japanwala.
The designer's work is deeply rooted in the rejection and deconstruction of external shame associated with one's body. She aims to create a realistic representation of individuals' bodies, embracing their existence freely and celebrating their physicality.
In her caption, Japanwala explained the inspiration behind her artistic process:
"The word 'beghairat' (translation: shameless) has become an anchor in my practice; thousands of people have used it to describe me and the work I create, in an effort to insult and shame me into silence. In reclaiming the word and understanding that the rejection of others' narrow definitions of shame is one of the most powerful tools for liberation, I've come to deeply appreciate and respect what living a life of shamelessness truly means."
Nyong'o's photos showcasing the breast plate quickly went viral, eliciting a range of reactions from fans and social media users. Some praised her for her daring fashion choice, appreciating the creativity and empowerment behind the statement.
Jackie Beat, a supporter, lauded the outfit as "AMAZING" and a great, creative way to challenge unjust, unfair, and misogynistic double standards. However, not all responses were positive. Some fans criticized the outfit as classless, unflattering, or undignified.
Rebecca Bardot, while acknowledging Lupita Nyong'o's beauty, found the outfit unflattering. Another Instagram user described it as "tacky" and lacking dignity.
However, supporters of the actress defended her artistic expression, emphasising the subjective nature of art and fashion. They argued that the outfit conveyed a powerful message about censorship and societal standards.
One user highlighted the significance of the breast plate as a statement against body shame, pointing out that it challenges the double standard of censoring the real female body while accepting a molded representation of the same form.
Another supporter praised the outfit as iconic and commended Nyong'o's continuous boundary-pushing in the realm of fashion.
Among the comments, Njoki criticized those who failed to grasp the intention behind the outfit, urging them to read the caption and understand the aim of combating body shame.
Similarly, Iquomma celebrated the outfit as a fabulous celebration of the human body, particularly in the context of breast cancer treatment, expressing a desire to embrace such boldness after undergoing her own treatment.
The controversy surrounding Lupita Nyong'o's breast plate outfit at the Tony Awards 2023 highlights the ongoing debate over art, fashion, body acceptance, and societal expectations.
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While the outfit has garnered both praise and criticism, it undeniably sparked a conversation about body shame, empowerment, and the boundaries of artistic expression.