Lupita Nyong'o graces the cover of Grazia UK's latest issue, and the Oscar winner is taking issue with the amount of retouching that went into the image. She posted the original photo side-by-side with the final, photoshopped version on Instagram and Twitter, calling out the magazine for "edit[ing] out & smooth[ing] my hair to fit a more Eurocentric notion of what beautiful hair looks like."
"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," she wrote in the image's caption.
"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." Nyong'o ended the caption with the hashtag, "#dtmh," don't touch my hair.
Excessive photoshopping is certainly nothing new for magazine covers, but this specific vein of altering women's hairstyles with the use of digital editing has happened more frequently in recent months. Just a few weeks ago, Solange questioned the removal of her entire hairstyle on her cover of the Evening Standard. The singer posted the original photo, which showed her elaborate, sculptural style by hairstylist Joanne Petit-Frére intact, to Instagram and captioned it simply, "dtmh," referencing her song, "Don't Touch My Hair," which became all too literal in this scenario.
Vernon François, the hairstylist behind Nyong'o's Grazia cover look, is an outspoken advocate for embracing the diversity of hair textures (his own product line was designed to cater to every curl pattern and type). So it's no surprise that he, too, turned to social media to express his thoughts. He re-posted Nyong'o's words and the original, unedited version of the photo, adding, "It's time to celebrate the beauty of textured hair in all its glory. It's imperative to have honest depictions of the vivacity of textured hair in the media so that we can embrace the reality that there is no one standard of beauty."
On Friday morning, Grazia UK issued an apology via Twitter: