Grazia Cover Photographer Apologises for the ‘Monumental Mistake’ of Editing Out Lupita Nyong’o’s Hair

Grazia Cover Photographer Apologises for the ‘Monumental Mistake’ of Editing Out Lupita Nyong’o’s Hair

The photographer behind Lupita Nyong's new Grazia UK cover feature has been forced to apologize after the actress spoke out upon finding parts of her natural hair had been removed.

Nyong’o – who has made a name for herself starring in films such as "12 Years A Slave" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" – decided to speak out against the cover on Twitter this week, stating she was “disappointed” that the publication had “edited out and smoothed [her] hair to fit a more Eurocentric notion of what beautiful hair looks like (sic)."

The actress went even further on her Instagram page, fiercely writing: “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

Grazia has apologized profusely to Nyong’o, but were quick to clarify it was not they who altered the photo. Despite acknowledging that they did not “uphold the highest of editorial standards in ensuring that [they] were aware of all alterations that had been made,” the blame seemingly falls on photographer An Le. Having shot for a whole host of worldwide Vogue publications, Le accepted full responsibility for what he now recognized as a “monumental mistake.” In a statement, he confirmed that it was he who edited the hair, and attributes the reasoning being to his own ignorance rather than any kind of hate.

Nyong’o finished by stating that the fulfillment she usually feels gracing covers has been diminished in the case of Grazia UK. What is normally a platform to “show other dark, kinky-haired peoplethat they are beautiful just the way they are” was lost upon seeing that the final images had omitted characteristics of her native heritage.

[via The Guardian]

Lead image courtesy of Marc Pascual.

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62 Comments

Johnny Rico's picture

Creative chose the photo, creative put the cover together. Control/direction falls on them. Not the photographers fault.

Allen Cooper's picture

Wouldn't have apologized. They could have done worse really. Oooh, such a big surprise from a magazine shoot, they altered a part of the model to suit their vision.

Reginald Walton's picture

Well of course you wouldn't have apologized, you just don't get it, as usual.

Allen Cooper's picture

Reginald, of course I get it. Unfortunately thats the industry. I don't think it should have anything to do with race, or any form of bigotry. The cover designers had a certain look they wanted. They used the model as a tool to achieve this. I don't think its any more about her race than it is the fact that they had a vision to achieve. And in all honesty, for the model/actress to get worked up about the whole thing is beyond me. If I (a "slightly" overweight, white male, with short hair) were to have modelled for a shoot would, not get bent out of shape if they slimmed me down, "tanned" my skin, and gave me long hair (or worse, a man bun) to facilitate their overall final image desired. I think at the end of the day, we've all become overly sensitive. By no means am I saying that our society does not have some major issues, that need changing, but I am saying that in this case particularly, I think its being blown out of proportion.

Sean Gibson's picture

Agree! The whole modeling industry in general drives me crazy. Glad I have no desire to ever get into that kind of work.

Shooting an actress for a cover related to an interview inside the very same magazine has as much to do with the "modeling industry" as shooting Donald Trump for a Time Magazine cover.

BLOWN WAY out of proportion. This one and the Solange Knowles hair issue for evening standard magazine or so, I don't remember, which was exactly the same reason as this Lupita issue I imagine - to fit the text layout.

I don't feel it had anything to do wtih race to be really honest... but I understand why it would be perceived as anti-black.... nevertheless magazines have been altering bodies, faces and hairs for yonks for me to see this as racist - especially for the purpose of fitting the text layout onto the photo.

Allen Cooper, please do not lecture anyone regarding "the industry" or using "the model as a tool to achieve blabla" if you seem to lack the understanding between a photograph of a model presenting fashion and the cover shot of an actress that is used to promote an interview with her in the very magazine.

She is not modelling here, it is about her as a person!

Dan Ostergren's picture

Personally, if a model is upset or offended that part of her body or image was altered, I see no harm in apologizing. Her feelings are valid.

Leigh Miller's picture

Kinda shows just how people "want" to see african americans.

However, there are a series of steps these images go through before the print version is arrived at. Don't buy all the "It wasn't me" baloney.

Anyway who cares...both look pretty good t my eyes.

Hans Rosemond's picture

If you look at her comments, she never said he or anyone was racist. Only that the ideal of beauty is skewed and deserved a more open approach. This invites conversation, not slapping a label of race baiting.

Had the photographer or magazine stopped to think it through, perhaps that conversation would have happened. Racism is being brought into the conversation by you, not Nyong’o.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Talking about race and accusing someone of racism are two entirely different things.

Alex Armitage's picture

I'd put money on it that Bob is a White Male American. Anyone wanna take bets?

I'm leaning toward a "camp" account. See Alex's "So bad it's good" article about movies. His responses are as over the top as a campy movie.

Anonymous's picture

Merriem here! Did you know that the first use of the word “camp” in this manner was in 1909?

Anonymous's picture

Ahoy-hoy! Perhaps I can be of assistance?

The tl;dr version of this is "yes, I'm a White Male American."

Sandro Loos's picture

Can we please stop that stupid "all white males are racist" bullcrap?

Jacques Cornell's picture

Sure. Nobody said it in the first place.

Anonymous's picture

Given the history if racism and discrimination in this country, I would say that it if's true that we've "done a far, far, far better job than any other country in accepting and integrating immigrants of all kinds" (I must admit that I don't know if this is true since I am not exactly familiar with all of the other nations of the world), then it's probably more of an indictment of the rest of the world than something we should be patting ourselves on the back about.

And no, I'm not just talking about Blacks and Latinos, but also the discrimination that was faced in their time by the Chinese, Japanese, Jews, Irish, Polish, etc.. Ironically, many of these groups such as the Irish and Polish were White and faced discrimination anyway because they were perceived to be "lesser" White people as many people at the time believed in the notion of "sub-races" within the races themselves.

While I certainly think that the PC police take it way too far at times, they are not really wrong when they talk about the insidious, rather complicated, and pervasive role that racial and ethnic discrimination have played throughout the course of our history since the inception of this nation. Are things better today in this regard than they ever were? I would say so. That doesn't mean that there's not yet work left to be done.

While I agree that the victims of racial discrimination can often end up being as racist themselves as they accuse others to be, I think it's a bit too easy to judge them from the outside looking in. We all have our individual stories and given the manner in which so many in this country have been hurt and disenfranchised, I can somewhat understand that desire to over-correct into almost a protectionist state where they form the very same type of racially knit communities that they accuse those in power of perpetuating. It's easy to shake your head at the hypocrisy, but the truth is more complicated than the ideals that we believe ought to be. When people feel hurt or angry, emotions often lead them to dark places and while I don't believe that it's acceptable (or edifying to the ultimate cause), I can at least see why they might behave in such a manner.

Likewise, I can also understand the backlash on the part of many White people to what many of them perceive to be their own form of victimization in the form of constantly being demonized. However true or false the narrative of white privilege might be, it can't feel good to always be portrayed as the bad guy regardless of your own personal beliefs or actions. It's as if you can't ever win. You can be the most loving, generous, and giving person in the world, but someone will still throw the fact that you're White (and must, therefore, benefit over others from the privilege bestowed upon you by your "whiteness") in your face as if it's some sort of character flaw or that you somehow asked for some sort of divine cheat code to life. I remember reading somewhere that the notion of being a heterosexual white male being "living life on easy mode" and wondering how that's working out for all of the unemployed White guys living on the street or barely getting by living in their trailers in rural America. I'm pretty sure many of them would like their share of that "easy mode" in their lives.

To me, the core trouble on both sides is so often the gross simplification of extremely complex issues down to the issue of skin color, ethnicity, or nationality as well as the use of these things as a core of your identity. I do believe that the world is unequal and that some live privileged existences, but race is just one of the many dividers. Regardless of what subset of the human species you're born into (race, parental education level, tax bracket, etc.), you are ultimately responsible for the person that you end up becoming. Where you happen to begin your life is not an excuse for every other choice you make in your life after that point.

And yes, I'm Asian so the particular form racial issues take for me is a bit complicated in that there seems to be a much more evenly mixed bag of positives and negatives. Maybe that's why nobody ever seems to really talk about Asians (other than Asians themselves) when they complain about racial injustice. I will admit that I've always felt somewhat left out being part of a minority group that people generally roll their eyes at when we start talking about racism. :/

Anonymous's picture

I find it interesting that you seem to be incapable of just letting someone say something without responding and getting a final word in even if that person is not actually saying anything that necessarily denounces your point of view. It's fascinating, really.

I don't really have the desire to get into a prolonged exchange, but I thought that I would at least respond to some of the points that you've made. You are free, of course, to have the final word if you so choose, but I'm going to hope that this post will clear up any potential ambiguity left by my previous post (not likely, but I'll give it an honest attempt).

#1. I'm not really young. That's not to say that I'm old either, but I would say that barring any unusual swings one way or the other, I'm probably more or less halfway through the amount I expect to live. I generally like to tell people that I'm just old enough to be rather jaded by life in general.

#2. Contrary to your assertion that I admitted ignorance on the subject, I never actually did. What I said that I was ignorant about was how every single country in the world deals with race relations. If you are going to make a statement that the USA is better than literally every other country in this regard, that must be made on the basis of an actual understanding of every other country. Unless you've dedicated your life to studying race relations of every nation on earth (I certainly have not), I don't really see how you could make such a claim with any intellectual honesty.

#3. Pointing out that if your assertion about the USA's standing in the realm of race relations is true would be an indictment of the rest of the world was merely me playing along with that hypothesis and providing my personal interpretation of such a situation as a contrast to the positive view of it that you seem hold. It's really just an exercise in showing that the same situation can be viewed in different lights much like a cup being half full or half empty. If, hypothetically, every single country in the world engaged in slavery and the USA was the only country that didn't, I wouldn't be giving the USA a gold star for taking the path that I believe to be morally right. I would be criticizing all of the other countries for failing to meet the basic moral standards that the USA was meeting. I guess the way one chooses to look at a situation comes down to a matter of personal values and expectations, however, because someone could easily look at that hypothetical situation and rather than saying "of course" to the USA, they might give that gold star and hold up the USA as a shining beacon of light compared to the rest of the world. I don't know... Maybe I'm just a pessimist in this sense.

#4. You can understand why people are the way they are while still believing that it's not acceptable. Just because I say that I can understand while minorities that feel victimized often turn to racism themselves doesn't mean that I believe that it's OK or that it does anything to improve the situation. Without the basis of understanding, however, there can't be any meaningful dialog. If we're talking about Whites and Blacks, White people need to better understand why Black people feel the way they do and Black people need to better understand why White people feel the way they do. Some of those feelings might be completely irrational, but some of those feelings might also have traceable roots that can be addressed. Without an attempt to understand the other party, how can you possibly address the concerns that they feel?

#5. I pointed out that I was Asian mainly because I do very much feel like an outsider looking in whenever these issues arise. Certainly, the issue of race relations does play a role in my life (as it does everyone), but with the exception of the few Asian people that complain about Hollywood roles for Asians or people whining about college admissions (I think both of these are a bit stupid.), I'm generally not considered in a group that feels victimized nor am I perceived to be part of the group that is considered to be victimizing others. Sure, I get tired of the Bruce Lee jokes and nonsense like that, but for the most part, it's pretty harmless. For this reason, this topic as a whole doesn't really hit home for me outside it being an interesting exercise in empathy.

Morally, I do desire a world where we can look beyond race, but I don't believe that will ever truly come. The color of our skin is a very real part of us and it's impossible to ignore so long as we have eyes. Anyone that tells you that they don't see the color of another person's skin is either deluded or outright lying (unless they're physically blind).

I don't presume to know the way forward and I'm not really sure that there even is a solution that would end all of this to the satisfaction of all parties. A great many people much smarter than myself have tried and continue to try to find a path to satisfy all parties and so far they have all fallen short.

And yes, I will freely admit that I contradict myself constantly. If there's one consistent thing about me, it's the fact that I don't consistently hold onto my beliefs. I may feel one way about a topic one day and I may wake up another day feeling differently. My opinions and beliefs change as I learn more things and gather more experiences. They might be informed by a particular interaction that I had on a given day or whatever mood that I happen to be in. When those contradictions are brought to light, those, too, serve as learning experiences to help inform my view for the future. While having a set of consistent, unchanging beliefs about the world may be an admirable quality, I feel like I could only truly have those when I reach a point where I believe that I have the world figured out. Maybe you've reached that point, but I certainly haven't so I guess make what you will of any contradictions that you might notice and do feel free to bring them to light. I can only say that I try to be as honest as I can about my feelings and thoughts on a subject as I experience them at the time of writing.

On a separate note, I know we've had our disagreements in other posts, but looking through your comments in general, I just have to ask. Do you ever just get exhausted by how wrong so many other people are? How do you find the energy to keep on getting into arguments? I honestly feel like if I felt as strongly as you seem to regarding things, I would have just given up and just stopped bothering a long, long time ago. I suppose I can admire the tenacity with which you defend your beliefs even if I might disagree with many of them. It's definitely a quality that I lack—maybe because I really don't have too many beliefs that convict me sufficiently. Maybe that's a byproduct of my relative lack of crystallized elements in my worldview.

Anonymous's picture

Well, the random person impersonating and apologizing on behalf of someone else is something I haven't seen before, but I would be curious to know what the Bob Brady with 1000+ comments things vs. the Bob Brady with 28 comments. :P

Anonymous's picture

Hi there! Merriem here with your “word of the day”!

Anonymous's picture

Aha, a fellow logophile! Cheers!

Reginald Walton's picture

Sigh! But not an unexpected comment.

identify the original image

"The original image actually looks more like a white woman." you said this, can you provide a link?

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