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Lupita Nyong’o Calls Out Photoshopped Grazia UK Cover

The actor’s afro ponytail was completely removed from the image.

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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

A post shared by Lupita Nyong’o (@lupitanyongo) on

Lupita Nyong’o, who is arguably one of the world’s most beautiful, intelligent and talented women, has been inexcusably Photoshopped on the November 2017 cover of Grazia UK. Late last week, Nyong’o posted a before and after image of the cover to Instagram, and it is obvious the magazine edited, smoothed and removed her natural gorgeous afro ponytail — without consulting her.

As a longtime proponent of diversity within a seriously flawed industry, the Oscar winner took to Instagram to address her disappointment with the magazine’s alterations, writing, “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.”

This widely circulated story is unfortunately not the first of its kind. In April 2016, Kerry Washington took to Instagram when she was shocked by her Adweek cover, writing, “I just felt weary. It felt strange to look at a picture of myself that is so different from what I look like when I look in the mirror. It’s an unfortunate feeling.”

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Nicki Minaj is no stranger to the systemic cultural appropriation of Black women’s hair either. In late September, she tweeted, “For years, fashion mags would change my hair for their covers but allow women of a diff race to wear the exact style on the cover.”

Solange Knowles even wrote a song, “Don’t Touch My Hair,” an entire year ago and sadly had to use it in hashtag form (#dtmh) just last month after a similar experience. Knowles appeared on the cover of The Evening Standard, but her braids had been noticeably removed from the image. Nyong’o used the #dtmh hashtag, too, saying, “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”

The magazine’s published image of Nyong’o further feeds into a Eurocentric version of beauty — which, by the way, is entirely detrimental at a time when we should be celebrating and showcasing Black women for their natural hair and diversity.

Grazia UK has since issued an Instagram apology, stating that they are “committed to representing diversity throughout its pages” and that they apologize “unreservedly” Lupita Nyong’o. As well, they state that “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 apologise unreservedly for not upholding the highest of editorial standards in ensuring that we were aware of all alterations that had been made.”