Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o isn’t happy with her latest magazine cover, and for good reason.
Appearing on the cover of Grazia, a U.K.-based fashion magazine, Nyong’o couldn’t help but notice that something was missing from the original photoshoot: namely, her hair. The image as it appears in the magazine erases an entire section of Nyong’o’s hair and smooths the rest of it.
Nyong’o took to her social media accounts to vent her frustration with the decision to take such creative liberties, writing on Instagram that she was “disappointed” in the outlet for trying to box her into their ideal of beautiful hair.
“Had I been consulted, I would have explained that I cannot support or condone the omission of what is my native heritage with the intention that they appreciate that there is still a very long way to go to combat the unconscious prejudice against black women’s complexion, hair style and texture,” she wrote.
In 2016, Vogue incorrectly attributed the inspiration for Nyong’o’s hairstyle at that year’s Met Gala to Audrey Hepburn. She was quick to correct them, as well.
N’yongo put together a video compilation of her real hair inspirations — Nina Simone as well as a number of traditional East and West African styles — for the event:
So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that when Grazia literally erased an important part of her look, she spoke up.
Again, writing on Instagram, she explains that growing up, she was conditioned to believe that “light skin and straight, silky hair were the standards of beauty.” Magazine covers didn’t often show women with hair like hers — and the Grazia cover demonstrates this is still the case.
“I now know that my dark skin and kinky, coily hair are beautiful too,” she wrote. “Being featured on the cover of a magazine fulfills me as it is an opportunity to show other dark, kinky-haired people, and particularly our children, that they are beautiful just the way they are.”
Responding to the backlash, Grazia offered an apology, noting that the photographer made the alteration without their notice.
Whether that changes anything in the mind of Nyong’o or anyone else… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. After all, she hoped that her cover could help inspire girls growing up in a world of Euro-centric beauty standards, which apology aside, won’t happen with this cover.
If there’s one thing to take away from this moving forward, in her words, it’s #dtmh — don’t touch my hair.
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