Os­car win­ner hits out at Grazia for air­brush­ing hair

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Anita Singh ARTS AND EN­TER­TAIN­MENT EDI­TOR

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

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