Any Multiracial person knows the feeling of being insecure at times about having hair that doesn’t seem to fit the mainstream standard of beauty, or at least feeling left out of representation and beauty tips in magazines and such. While the fashion magazine industry is making strides in being more progressive and inclusive in terms of diversity amongst their models and content, one magazine took a giant step back recently when the cover of Grazia UK featured Lupita Nyong’o without the ponytail she had in the untouched version of the photo, instead showing her with a short, nearly shaved style similar to what she had a few years ago.
Nyong’o immediately disapproved of the action on her social media, stating that she loves her kinky, coily hair and that she wants to show others who differ from the “light skin and straight, silky hair” beauty narrative that they’re beautiful too. She then ended her call out with the hashtag “#dtmh,” which stands for “Don’t touch my hair,” which stems from the Solange Knowles song of the same name.
Grazia UK dodged responsibility by apologizing for not keeping up with what was changed in the photo, but stating that they didn’t alter the photo or ask for the photo to be altered. The photographer, An Le, later posted what seems to be a very sincere apology, taking full responsibility and recognizing that as an immigrant himself, he should be an advocate for diversity.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad that the apology isn’t canned and really seems to acknowledge the mistake made… but why are these mistakes still being made? Should it really be something that has to be called out that you shouldn’t Photoshop out someone’s whole ponytail?
Truthfully, I’m a little tired of people only realizing their fault after others call them out for it. It’s better than nothing for sure, but I’m not sure how in 2017 we’re still so okay with blatantly altering people’s appearances to fit our standards. It’s wonderful to see strong women like Lupita strong enough to fight back against these instances, but usually by the time the mistake is called out, the damage is already done to readers who see that even these jaw-droppingly beautiful women in these magazines are apparently not good enough.
I don’t mind photoshopping photos in magazines for the occasional small aesthetic change, such as a stray hair or a blemish. But large things like hair type, skin color, and body size? Aren’t we over that already?
I don’t think the fault is just placed on An Le or Grazia UK. The underlying issue is the fact that the subconscious of many fashion editors, photographers, and so on still subscribe to a narrow ideal of beauty that, among other things, does not see kinky, coily hair types as beautiful. Sure, a more diverse range of models and prominent figures are gracing magazines lately, and that’s great. But they’re fine as they are, kinky hair and all. No retouch needed.