Photoshopped Natural Hair As Experienced by Lupita Nyong'o And Solange Knowles

Photoshopped Natural Hair As Experienced by Lupita Nyong'o And Solange Knowles

Reminding the media not to touch girls' hair.

The latest Grazia UK cover features Lupita Nyong’o, but on Friday, November 10th, the Oscar-winning actress took to Instagram to reveal that the cover wasn’t what she thought it might be. While she was originally photographed with her natural, textured hair in a low and clearly visible ponytail, the cover displayed a photoshopped version, sans ponytail, and with a smoother texture.

In a lengthy caption, Nyong'o writes: “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... 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.” The caption continues to detail that she hadn’t been contacted by Grazia or consulted with regards to the editing process. She expresses that had she known of their plans, she would have been unable to “support or condone the omission of what is [her] native heritage.”

Just two weeks prior, Solange Knowles endured a similar experience. Her cover shoot for Britain’s Evening Standard Magazine was conducted with her hair styled in an elaborate, braided crown, but when the feature was published, the hairstyle was removed altogether. Her Instagrammed response was brief, but shared Nyong’o’s sentiment: #dtmh. This hashtag abbreviates the phrase “Don’t Touch My Hair,”

and is also the name of one of the songs on Knowles’ new album, "A Seat at the Table."

Almost ironically, the interview Knowles conducted with the magazine details her value for braided hair, where she calls it an "act of beauty, an act of convenience and an act of tradition" — it is "its own art form." She describes salons as a place of refuge, a place where black women could progress through their individual hair journeys. To photoshop her braids out of her cover photo is to seemingly disregard her larger standpoint.

Both magazine platforms have released statements with regards to their editorial decisions. The journalist who conducted the ES interview, Angelica Jade, tweeted after its release, asking that her name be removed from the byline, as she claimed the editors of the magazine had distorted both her reporting and the overall presentation of the piece. Grazia claimed no knowledge of the photographer’s editing process, and of having never requested that her hair be retouched. They expressed regret over not having been aware of the alterations being made and claimed a want for accurate representations of diversity in their publications.

The messages that Knowles and Nyong’o put forth, and the editing that they encounter in these magazine publications are implicative of much larger issues that they both attempt to explain. In an interview last year with Saint Heron, Knowles described the song “Don’t Touch My Hair” with greater depth, providing that “the song is as much as what it feels like to have your whole identity challenged on a daily basis, although physically touching the hair is extremely problematic!” In her statement concerning Grazia, Nyong’o also stresses her personal need “to show other dark, kinky-haired people, and particularly our children, that they are beautiful just the way they are.”

The value they share of having natural hair represented in media is owed to the fact that historically, it is rarely represented. The Natural Hair Movement is a remarkably modern one. As women with public platforms, they demonstrate an understanding of their personal responsibility to use their platforms to encourage self-acceptance.

Cover Image Credit: @lupitanyongo / Instagram

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I Love My Tattoos--And Yours

I love my tattoos. And I love yours. So don't be ashamed of them. Never be ashamed of yourself or your art.

I love my tattoos. Everyone who has them says this--well, mostly everyone--but it's still so true. I love how they represent my life and the experiences I've had and that led me to getting them. They remind me of people and events that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

I haven't experienced the stereotypical judgement about my tattoos (unless you count my mom giving me a look when I talk about them). I've never been scolded or told I'm ridiculous for choosing to have these permanent pieces of art on my body. If anything, I've been complimented for them. I've even been called brave for having them.

There is an element of bravery in getting tattoos. For one, you have ink injected in your skin by many tiny needles which is not the most comforting feeling in the world. For some, it's the most painful experience in the world. For me, it was almost like nothing. Believe it or not, I almost took a nap while I was getting my first one which is on my ribs--which might say a lot about my pain tolerance. However, I don't think you should be considered brave for getting a tattoo. It's not as if you've completed a gargantuan task that we all have to go through in life.

But then again, I do think the bravery comes from the comments you're confronted with afterwards. Sometimes people can be fascinated and genuinely intrigued by your tattoos as well as their meaning. Yet there are also the people who just mean to be assholes. You get comments such as "don't you know those are permanent" and "wow so how much are you going to spend to get those removed". Your mom might comment "how are those going to look when you get older?" as if that's going to be at the forefront of her thoughts when you reach your next birthday.

But at the end of the day, I don't regret my tattoos. Sure I got them all within a year but I've known how I wanted to decorate my body since I can remember. I don't regret the time and money it took for them to appear on my body because they are reminders of what I have accomplished and overcome in my life. They will remind me of the places I've been and where my home will always be. They remind me to be strong and have faith in everything whether it be religious or not. They remind me that I have a passion that fuels me every day and that my story is never over. Sometimes they feel like a little secret and it delights me that I can see them while others can't.

If anything, my tattoos are representatives of who I am as a person. They are my art and they've always been a part of me even before they were created. And if my future children want tattoos as a way to express themselves, I'll definitely support them. It would be hypocritical of me not to but also I don't want to stifle their way of creative expression.

I love my tattoos. And I love yours. So don't be ashamed of them. Never be ashamed of yourself or your art.

Cover Image Credit: reverseatatt

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What I Learned About Millennials And Makeup

What This Generation X Gal Learned in Her 40’s.

Millennials and Make-up: What This Generation X Gal Learned in Her 40’s

During my years in graduate school, I was one of three women in Generation X. These women, albeit amazing and wonderful, were family women, attached and often times, difficult to get to know. I found myself, begrudgingly, focusing on making friends with women in their early 30’s. To my surprise, these Millennials had much to offer. Although they would often seem distant or aloof, once I got to know them, their vulnerability was palpable. They saw me, not as mom or big sis, but as the strong woman they wanted to be, which was laughable because I was phoning that shit in daily. They reached out, asked me my opinion on most matters, but also checked in on me, wanted to know how I was doing and how my family was, which was mind blowing because the Millennial generation is not known for their empathy. I found myself diving in wanting to know more about this culture.

I became close with two in particular: Crystal and Candice. In and out of class, although tired and spent from a day at work, had their makeup complete. Candice’s makeup was always pristine with a look as if a make-up artist had perfected it before class. Crystal’s make-up had a “natural” flare and never needed retouching.

Initially, I avoided conversation with most students in my classes. As an introvert, it was difficult for me to engage in basic conversation, but after hearing their intelligent and witty comments in class, I pursued their friendship. I discovered these women were searching for the same things I was: knowledge, respect and a chance at a better life, in a world filled with struggle and sadness. The makeup was not a form of hiding or cultural obligation, but it provided them focus and empowerment.

After graduation, Candice and I went to her uncle’s cabin up at Lake Harmony. We went into town to walk around and check some things out, there was an event going on and some vendors were selling their goods. A jewelry vendor, who was probably from Generation Y pointed at my friends’ eyebrows and said, “I love your eyebrows.” I had always noticed, Candice took great care with her eyebrows, were perfect. My eyebrows were throwbacks to Brooke Shields in the 80’s. I thought the Generation Y girl was joking when she asked her about her eyebrows, but I could see she was admiring her, ogling her skill. I turned to Candice and said, “Is that a thing?” She replied, “Yeah, it’s a thing.” Women, admiring other women’s eyebrows, who knew? Women complimenting each other, empowering one another, I believe, is part of the new wave of feminism. These women are not working on their makeup to impress men or even other women; they do it to feel good about themselves and to gain a skill for life.

Candice and Crystal led me to YouTube where I discovered a woman in her forties who has an autoimmune illness, as I do, who is producing videos on how to do your makeup in your mid-life. She’s beautiful before and after makeup and she empowers her audience to be their best selves on a level I never would have given credence to as a feminist. I used to feel that Millennial women hid themselves in the wild, with makeup, now I have learned the value of showing off your mad skills and the truth of “putting your best face forward.”

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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