Lupita Nyong’o Has Something to Say to the Magazine that Photoshopped Her Hair From the Cover

The reality of mainstream failing to see and appreciate beauty in all forms is still one that runs rampant. Nothing shows that statement to be truer than the way Western beauty ideals are often held at the standard and anything else falls short or is left to pay dust. Despite magazines attempting to diversify their covers with soulful black women of color, they also do their part to do whatever it takes to make them more “palatable” to their readers – even though they were the ones who asked them to grace their covers. Solange’s braided crown was omitted as a victim to Photoshop just a few weeks ago, and now, Lupita Nyong’o is experiencing some of the same unfair treatment.

For Nyong’o, it was her ponytail that didn’t make the cut or the cover for Grazia UK magazine. He issue that was presented to the world was a sleek-fade, pulled back tight and showing the glorious contour of Nyong’o and her natural features. However, Nyong’o was quick to tell the online community that an important element was missing from the otherwise striking cover – her natural-haired ponytail. The actress took to Instagram to share the actual photos of her she shot for the mag, hair included, and she also had some gems to tell mainstream media about black hair:

“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. I am disappointed that Grazia UK invited me to be on their cover and then edited out and smoothed my hair to fit their notion of what beautiful hair looks like. 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, hairstyle and texture.”

Grazia UK has since issued an apology (see below), but it doesn’t take away from the fact that diversifying beauty ideals matters because representation matters and representation matters because beautiful isn’t only beautiful one way. For black women, that often times includes the natural way they like to wear their hair. And in that sense, black hair becomes a political statement of not only owning who you truly are but also being courageous enough to be defiant in a world that constantly tells you erasure and devaluing is okay. It’s not.

Interestingly enough, Nyong’o touched on beauty ideals in the interview with the very magazine that tried to edit her into what they deemed beautiful. Let her be an inspiration to all, if she isn’t already. “Growing up, it was a lot cheaper to make your own clothes than to buy them, so my mother would have our outfits made. Then, I started to do it myself – I would look through catalogues, and draw the things I wanted. I just loved doing my own thing.”

Photo Credit: PR Photos

Sheriden Chanel is a twenty-something writer, Beyoncé enthusiast, and lover of all things visual art. Keep up with her and her musings on social via @indiebyline.