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‘I Refuse to Believe That I’m Not Worth It’: Viola Davis Says Beauty Standards Have Evolved, Explains How She Learned to Love Herself

Viola Davis looked sensational while attending the 76th annual Cannes Film Festival in France.

While there, the 57-year-old actress spoke candidly about evolving beauty standards in the industry.

Viola Davis
Viola Davis at the 76th annual Cannes Film Festival in France on May 17. (Photo: @violadavis/Instagram)

Davis — who is the international spokeswoman for L’Oréal Paris cosmetics — attended the May 17 premiere of “Monster” sporting her natural crown with a white single-strap gown by Valentino. She paired the look with a giant white feather overcoat.

Prior to the festivities and her red-carpet appearance, she told People magazine that she believes beauty standards have evolved and are continuing to do so.

“I think beauty standards have changed,” said Davis. “I think that what’s shifted is that whole idea of mental health being associated with beauty [and] of understanding who we are beyond male desirability. It’s really a huge part of why I decided to become a part of L’Oreal that whole statement of ‘I’m worth it.'”

Related: Viola Davis Talks Colorism, Says Black Actors Didn’t Think She Was ‘Pretty Enough’ to Star In ‘HTGAWM’

The Academy Award-winning actress added that she was constantly told that she wasn’t beautiful in the past, which previously affected how she felt about herself.

“What destroyed me was people constantly telling me that I was not beautiful,” she expressed. “[You might think] why would you be upset with that?’ Because beauty is attached with worth and value. And I refuse to believe that I’m not worth it just based on a sort of idea and perception of what people think classical beauty is.”

She continued, “Back in the day, we hid our pain behind perfectly applied lipstick and wax floors. Now we don’t do that anymore. We’re saying this is who we are, beyond the makeup and the hair. I see that. I see that with my daughter’s generation.”

Davis went on to say that she is sharing the lessons she’s learned with her 12-year-old adopted daughter, Genesis, whom she shares with her husband, Julius Tennon. She says that one of those lessons is learning to love yourself — a lesson she claims she wasn’t taught at a young age.

She encourages her daughter to “have a love affair with herself” and to understand “that she is indeed the love of her life.”

“I said, ‘I love you, but it’s not me, it’s not some boy. At the end of the day, you can’t disappoint yourself. You have to advocate for yourself. You have to show up for her,'” said Davis. “‘It’s in showing up when someone hurts you. Creating boundaries and when someone crosses it. Show up for yourself.’ No one ever taught me that. I felt loving myself was being conceited.”

The “Air” star also spoke about women in the entertainment industry who are creating their own opportunities and empowering themselves. Davis is currently starring as Deloris Jordan in the biopic about NBA great Michael Jordan‘s multi-million dollar deal with Nike.

“She was the one who negotiated the [multi-million dollar Nike] deal, that we know what it is today. And that intrigued me,” said Davis, adding that film roles for Black women over 50 are lacking. “Here’s the thing, when it comes to Black women who are over 50, then that is when the lack of interesting roles is problematic. That’s when it is a vast desert.”

“Women are no longer begging for a seat at the table, they’re creating their own,” the mom of one stated before naming fellow actresses such as Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Kerry Washington, Issa Rae, Michaela Coel, Halle Berry, and Keke Palmer.

“We can keep going on and on — even Marsai Martin, who is what, 18? — they’re empowering themselves by understanding that they’re the change that they want to see.”

Davis has been a spokeswoman for L’Oréal Paris since 2019. She hopes to be a part of more empowering moments so that the film industry can continue to evolve over time.

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