After A Magazine Retouched Lupita Nyong’o’s Hair, She Spoke Out About Beauty Standards

“My dark skin and kinky, coily hair are beautiful, too.”

As much as we believe all bodies are beautiful, retouched magazine covers seem determined to have us think otherwise. The latest cover photo controversy involves Black Panther star Lupita Nyong'o, whose hair looked dramatically different during the photo shoot than it did on the November issue of Grazia UK. Instead of just rebuking the magazine, though, the 34-year-old actress turned the controversy into a conversation.


Nyong'o shared the startling before-and-after photos on Instagram on November 9, showing how someone erased her textured ponytail.

"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," the Academy Award winner 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."

"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," Nyong'o continued. "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"

For its part, Grazia UK apologized to Nyong'o in a tweet posted this morning, November 10, claiming it is "committed to representing diversity throughout its pages."

The editors claimed they didn't realize someone had retouched the actress's hair. "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," the magazine's tweet continued. "But we apologise unreservedly for not upholding the highest of editorial standards in ensuring that we were made aware of all alterations that had been made."

If Lupita's "#dtmh" hashtag sounds familiar, you might be remembering Solange Knowles' Instagram response when Evening Standard magazine erased her elaborate braid on its October issue cover photo — a hashtag referencing her song "Don't Touch My Hair."

"Don't touch my hair / When it's the feelings I wear," Knowles sings on the track. "Don't touch my soul / When it's the rhythm I know / Don't touch my crown / They say the vision I've found / Don't touch what's there / When it's the feelings I wear."

Meanwhile, readers praised Allure for not touching Kerry Washington's natural hair for the photo shoot accompanying her November cover story. "I want [my children] to know that their hair is perfect as it is," the Scandal star told the magazine. "They don't have to change it or straighten it."

We need only cover photos like that Allure one — and none of the excessive retouching someone committed for that Grazia UK pic — if these beauty magazines are going make us all feel included.

Cover photo via Instagram


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