Lupita Nyong’o has appeared on the cover of Allure magazine’s March issue to discuss the importance of women being able to celebrate their natural hair, rather than trying to change it to be “more acceptable” for a prejudiced society.
The Oscar winner “had total freedom” to work with hairstylist Vernon Francis on the shoot to create looks that celebrate her “kinky hair”, according to the publication.
The 34-year-old admitted she had to learn to love her natural look, because of the expectations of those around her when she was growing up. “Now I love my hair. I love it because I’ve also been able to really embrace the stuff it can do,” she said. “It’s like clay in the right hands. Clay can be dirt in the wrong hands, but clay can be art in the right hands.”
The actress, who most recently starred in Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ film - in which stylist Camille Friend used no non-natural methods such as press and comb or relaxers on the cast, according to The Cut - explained that as a child she was “envious” of other children who had relaxed hair. For years she begged her mother to let her have the treatment too.
It was only after she suffered an intense period of bullying, that her parents finally agreed to let her have it done.
But after huge expenses and painful upkeep - “I’d have these terrible neck aches because I was determined to keep my hair as pristine as possible.” - she eventually decided to shave it all off.
For the cover shoot, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier, Nyong’o and Francis wanted to inspire other women to also reject the non-natural movement, Francis said: “Loving your true texture is important.
“Lupita and I wanted to show that coil-y or kinky hair has many strengths and can be worn in lots of different ways, celebrating its beauty and versatility.”
In November Nyong’o called out Grazia for photoshopping her hair on the November cover. The actress published before and after images on her Instagram, showing the images before her hair had been digitally altered.
“Being featured on the cover of a magazine fulfils 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,” she wrote.
Grazia’s feature highlighted Nyong’o as the first black ambassador for Lancome and one of the very few black actresses to win an Oscar.