Oscar winner hits out at Grazia for airbrushing hair
LUPITA NYONG’O, the Oscar-winning actress, has accused a fashion magazine of airbrushing her hair to fit “a more Eurocentric notion” of beauty.
Nyong’o criticised Grazia in a post on social media to her 4.2 million followers.
The cover of this week’s issue shows the 34-year-old actress with closecropped hair. But the original image, which Nyong’o shared online, featured her natural hair tied in a ponytail.
“Disappointed that Grazia UK edited out and smoothed my hair to fit a more Eurocentric notion of what beautiful hair looks like,” she said.
“As I have made clear so often in the past with every fibre 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 on the cover of a magazine fulfils me as it is an opportunity to show other dark, kinky-haired people, particularly our children, that they are beautiful just the way they are.”
She said of the Grazia cover: “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
‘Had I been consulted I would have explained that I cannot support or condone the omission of what is my native heritage’
to combat the unconscious prejudice against black women’s complexion, hair style and texture.”
Grazia apologised to the actress and claimed no prior knowledge of the altered image, appearing to blame the photographer. A statement from the magazine said:
“Grazia is committed to representing diversity throughout its pages and apologises unreservedly to Lupita Nyong’o.
“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, not did we alter it ourselves. But we apologise unreservedly for not upholding the highest of editorial standards in ensuring that we were aware of all alterations that had been made.”
An Le, the New York-based photographer did not respond to a request for comment. But Vernon Francois, the hair stylist on the shoot, posted a message in support of Nyong’o: “It’s time to celebrate the beauty of textured hair in all its glory,” he said. Nyong’o, who won the best supporting actress Oscar in 2014 for 12 Years A Slave, is the first black actress to be made an ambassador for Lancôme, the beauty brand.
In the accompanying Grazia interview, she spoke about the importance of diversity in fashion and beauty, and the responsibility she feels. “I know being an African woman on a
Hollywood platform is not something you see every day, and I feel how special
that is and I respect it,” she said.
The 34-year-old was born in Mexico and raised in Kenya where her father, Peter, is a politician. She moved to the US to study acting, and was chosen for 12 Years A Slave while still a student at Yale School of Drama.
There was a similar controversy last month when Solange Knowles, the US singer, criticised the London Evening Standard for digitally removing a braided crown from her head.
The image appeared on the cover of the Standard’s ES magazine, and Knowles published before and after pictures on Instagram with the acronym “DTMH”, which stands for “don’t touch my hair”. The magazine said that the photo had been altered for layout purposes but offered “unreserved apologies” for the offence caused.
Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong’o, inset, posted before and after images, above, from her Grazia cover photo shoot to show how her hair had changed from a ponytail to a close-cropped style