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Hey Magazines, Stop Messing With Black Women’s Hair

Lupita Nyong’o had a message for Grazia.

Nyong’o wears a white t-shirt and a sparkly hot pink bomber jacket.
Lupita Nyong’o at the Global Citizen Festival in September.
Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images

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Last night, Lupita Nyong’o directed an Instagram post at the magazine Grazia, which photographed the Academy Award winner for its November cover and, without asking her first, edited the image to eliminate her natural curls. Nyong’o provided a side-by-side of the original image, in which she wears her hair pulled back at the neck, and the one that ultimately ran.

“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,” Nyong’o wrote on Instagram. “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.”

Instances of brands and institutions taking issue with and imposing restrictions on black women’s hair run rampant, from hair policing in schools to ignorant comments on the Oscars red carpet. Just last month, Solange Knowles called out the Evening Standard for editing out her braids on the cover of its magazine, despite addressing in the accompanying profile the role that hair styling has played in Knowles’s life.

At this point, Grazia has apologized to Nyong’o and says that it “is committed to representing diversity throughout its pages,” which would ring a lot more true if it hadn’t just messed with the Black Panther star’s hair. To Grazia and the Evening Standard, Nyong’o and Knowles had the same message: “Don’t touch my hair.”