A word to the wise: Don’t touch Lupita Nyong’o’s hair. Or anyone else’s.
The Academy Award-winning actress is not too pleased with the U.K. editition of Grazia after the magazine edited out and smoothed parts of her hair for its November 2017 cover, saying she never would have participated in a shoot that erased her natural hair texture.
Nyong’o shared side-by-side before and after photos on Instagram, writing that “there is still a very long way to go to combat the unconscious prejudice against black women’s complexion, hair style and texture.”
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
Her hashtag #dtmh is an abbreviation for “Don’t Touch My Hair,” a request long made by black women to people who feel entitled to invade their space, violate their autonomy and touch their hair. It’s also a song from Solange Knowle’s recent album “A Seat at the Table,” and Knowles used the same abbreviation last month when part of her braided hairstyle was removed on the cover of Evening Standard.
Grazia U.K. apologized to Nyong’o in a statement, maintaining that the magazine itself did not request her hair be smoothed out.
“Grazia is committed to representing diversity throughout its pages and apologizes unreservedly to Lupita Nyong’o,” said a spokeswoman. “Grazia magazine would like to make it clear that at no point did they make any editorial request to the photographer for Lupita Nyong’o’s hair to be altered on this week’s cover, nor did we alter it ourselves. But we apologize unreservedly for not upholding the highest of editorial standards in ensuring that that we were aware of all alterations that had been made.”
Do better, magazine industry.