Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o has always been vocal about her pride in her culture and heritage in the face of an industry that worships Eurocentric beauty ideals. She’s made speeches talking about growing up as a young dark-skinned girl and confessed she used to pray to God that she would wake up with lighter skin until she had an awakening and realised that the only important kind of beauty can be found within.
So it’s particularly disappointing then that such a vocal champion for loving your whole self has found her cover of Grazia edited to apparently make her look less black. Lupita took to Instagram to share her concerns about the removal of her kinky ponytail and the smoothing of her flyaways, and it also looks like an unfortunate consequence of the a lightening of the cover means that Lupita’s dark skin has become a shade lighter with changes to her undertone palette.
As I have made clear so often in the past with every fiber of my being, I embrace my natural heritage and despite having grown up thinking light skin and straight, silky hair were the standards of beauty, I now know that my dark skin and kinky, coily hair are beautiful too. 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 @graziauk 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, hair style and texture. #dtmh
Grazia released a statement today apologising, but explaining that they had no part in the editing of the photo and reiterating their commitment to diversity. Apparently the blame lies with the photographer, so that’s that, but it’s an important reminder for the industry that black women won’t allow their bodies (or their hair) to be dictated to by others. Don’t Touch Their Hair.