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Kenya’s Lupita Nyong’o on Black Hair Being Tagged as “Uncivilized”

It is well known and understood that hair is one of the most beautiful aspects of any woman. And the controversy therein is the belief that straight, silky hair is the acceptable standard of beauty. This is a factor that for a long time has affected our black children- who needed someone to remind that they are beautiful just the way they are. And true beauty lies in self acceptance, something no industry can take from you. This is a matter that Oscar winning actress, Lupita Nyong’o feels very passionate about. And speaking about her hair as a black woman, she understands the importance that lies in being an example to the beautiful black children and in the process building their self-worth.

Lupita Nyong’o

Nyong’o told Net-a-Porter for Porter Magazine, “My hair is something that, historically, has been shunned. I mean, how often do you hear, ‘You can’t get a job with hair like that’?”

The “Black Panther” actress while speaking to Porter’s Carolyn Kormann that there still exists micro aggression, and added that, “Natural, African, kinky hair ― it’s often been painted as uncivilized or wild.”

This is however not the first time that the Oscar Winner has had to defend her hair against racist remarks. Last year she called out British magazine Grazia after they edited the kinky part of her hairstyle on the magazine’s cover.

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The 35-year-old actress, who was born in Mexico City and raised up in Nairobi, Kenya, took to Instagram in 2017 to speak about her disappointment in what happened. She wrote, “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.”

And in her interview with Porter, she also spoke about her recent film “Black Panther” and pointed the significance it has to black people around the world. She said, “We’d never seen something like this. We knew it was going to be dope. But we could not have predicted just how clamorous and passionate the response would be. There was just an ownership!”

She also appreciated that the film started a conversation, that to her was much needed, about similar experiences between Africans and African-Americans. She said, “I was in Nigeria not long after the film came out … and one man said to me, ‘How are my cousins, Boseman and Jordan? I had never heard that sentiment come out of an African’s mouth. It started a long overdue conversation about our shared identities.”

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