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Girls & Women

Actress Lupita Nyong’o Calls Out Magazine That Edited Her Natural Hair

Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o is more than just an incredible actress, she’s a champion for diversity, gender equality, and empowerment.

So naturally, the actress was dismayed to find that her hair had been heavily edited to appear smoother on the cover of the UK’s Grazia Magazine.

Nyong’o voiced her disappointment in an Instagram post on Thursday night 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.”

Take Action: Let’s consider our own biases as we build a world where everyone sees equal #WeSeeEqual

The actress, who co-hosted this year’s Global Citizen Festival, said, “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.”

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

Nyong’o has spoken up about Hollywood’s lack of diversity on several occasions and has been candid about her struggles with her self-image.

“I put on the TV and only saw pale skin,” she said in 2014 while accepting the Best Breakthrough Performance Award at Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. “I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin and my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter skinned.”

But it’s not just about skin tone.

“European standards of beauty are something that plague the entire world — the idea that darker skin is not beautiful, that light skin is the key to success and love,” she told Glamour magazine. And those standards also apply to hair.

Read more: Actress Lupita Nyong’o Shares Her Weinstein Story and Calls on Everyone to Break Their Silence

“Racial discrimination based on European beauty norms can lead to internalized racism, body shame, and skin tone dissatisfaction, factors that can influence product use to achieve straighter hair or lighter skin,” researchers have said.

Nyong’o relishes the chance to challenge those standards and stereotypes.

“Alek Wek changed how dark people saw themselves," she told Vogue, referring to the famed South Sudanese model. "That I could do the same in a way for somebody somewhere is amazing. There is no point in getting your picture taken if it doesn’t move somebody.”

“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,” Nyong’o said in her Instagram post.

“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,” she said in the post, adding the hashtag #dtmh — meaning “don’t touch my hair” and coined from a Solange Knowles’s song of the same name. Knowles herself recently used the hashtag to clap back at a different UK magazine that photoshopped her hair.

dtmh @eveningstandardmagazine

A post shared by Solange (@saintrecords) on

Grazia has since apologized to Nyong’o and affirmed its commitment to representing diversity. It also stated that they had not asked the photographer to alter her hair.

Global Citizen campaigns to eliminate all forms of discrimination. You can take action here.