For so many women within the Afro-Latina community, there is a deeply-rooted pressure to iron out the textures of our natural hair and lock out our African ancestry. Centuries of having their curly, kinky hair condemned as “pelo malo” in a world where Euro-centric features are favored has forced many to develop negative perceptions of themselves. These mindsets have been kept alive by magazines who have, for decades, either excluded women of African descent from their covers or “touched up” their features to make them more “suitable.”
In a recent Instagram post, Mexican-born actress Lupita Nyong’o is speaking up against such practices after a women’s lifestyle magazine tried to do the same to her.
Nyong’o took to social media to rail Grazia UK magazine for altering her image in this month’s issue.
— Lupita Nyong'o (@Lupita_Nyongo) November 10, 2017
In two separate posts to her Twitter and Instagram accounts the actress expressed that she was “disappointed” that the magazine had digitally removed and “smoothed” her hair in an attempt to fit a “Eurocentric notion of what beautiful hair looks like.” Both posts included untouched images of the Oscar winner from the original shoot.
“I embrace my natural heritage and despite having grown up thinking light skin and straight, silky hair were the standards of beauty,” she wrote.
CREDIT: @lupitanyongo / Instagram.com
“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 in her Instagram post.
Many Latinas took to Twitter to express their displeasure at the magazine’s decision to crop and smooth her hair.
Most conveyed their disappointment at the magazine’s decision to whitewash Nyong’o to fit inflexible standards.
One woman shot down anyone who believed that Afro-Latinas like Nyong’o should actually want to achieve such standards.
Both of Nyong’o’s posts included the viral hashtag #DTMH, a tribute to the common phrase “don’t touch my hair” so many women in the Africo-Latina and Black communities have had to state in an attempt to keep critical and curious hands away from their hair.
Even celebrities came to express their astonishment.
CREDIT: @Jes_chastain / Twitter.com
Since Nyong’o’s posts, the magazine has issued an apology for “not upholding the highest of editorial standards.”
Still, for many the damage has been done. The photoshopped image of Nyong’o is widely indicative of a pervasive issue in the fashion and beauty industries where Black hair has been passed over for Euro-centric features. Fortunately, so many women like Nyong’o are challenging these norms and changing up the landscape.