“Don’t Touch My Hair. When It’s The Feelings, I Wear.”
#DTMH. Solange’s lyrics to “Don’t Touch My Hair” is smoothly playing through my speakers as I write this article.
It is also the hashtag that Lupita Nyong’o used when expressing her distaste at Grazia Magazine a few months ago. The publication is guilty of photoshopping her textured hair into a smooth buzz cut without the permission of her or her team. Most may not have seen that as an issue, but originally her hairstyle composed of her natural kinks in a slick bun graced the cover of the magazine.
But I guess the bun wasn’t slick enough because they decided that it wasn’t worthy to be on the cover. This is a sentiment that is both disappointing but true of this day and age.
Because Lupita spoke out on the drastic editing of her photograph it brought up feelings that prompted self-reflection in the African and African American community. These feelings are ones that people without color may or may not have known were a problem for people of color. They are feelings that affected employment and the day to day life for the people who refuse to straighten and contain their natural tresses.
After the Grazia scandal, Lupita sat down to let Porter magazine know that it wasn’t just the photoshopping of the image that was the issue. The issue is that black women hear about the wildness or the uncivilized nature of their black hair on the day-to-day basis.
Unfortunately, we deal with a constant serving of reminders that it could be difficult to get a job wearing our hair in its natural state.
Many of us straighten our hair for interviews then slowly show our true textures as we’ve settled into our new places of employment.
“They Don’t Understand What It Means To Me.”
In a world that favors traditional western standards of beauty, it’s no wonder that kinky hair is shunned in the eyes of traditional western Hollywood.
Sadly, because of this amazing stars like Lupita Nyong’o have struggled with accepting themselves and the hair that they were born with. In Allure magazine Lupita spoke about not liking or accepting her own hair texture. Growing up in her home in Kenya and seeing girls at school with hair that was easier to manage due to chemical straightening forced Lupita to want to chemically straighten her hair and upkeep it.
However, she did not know that it was such an expensive task. Instead of loving straighter hair and its flexibility, she began to loathe it. She even went so far as hurting her neck to ensure that her style stayed in its most perfect form when she went to sleep.
Most may not know this, but Lupita’s signature shortcut came from a joke her father made when he spoke about how much money her hair costs. He said that she should just cut all of her hair off! Taking that advice, Lupita went to her hair stylist and did just that! She cut every single insecurity, rude name, and kinky coil off of her head so that she no longer had to deal with it.
However bold that decision was, the new hair and the new confidence is something she had to get used to.
“Don’t touch my crown. They say the vision, I’ve found.”
The ironic thing about Lupita’s drastic change in her physical appearance is her own response to it.
She refers to her big chop as a liberating change; she did not have to hide behind anything anymore. Even though her mother did not approve of this new hairstyle, Lupita was able to accept the hair that she was naturally born with although she had to cut it all off to realize it.
Currently, in Tinseltown, the world of movies, lights, and glimmering sparks of fame Lupita has the Vernon Francis. Vernon is a celebrity hair stylist, who not only specializes in hair care but also has his own product line.
This is something that she didn’t have when initially coming to America to study because she was in Boston, Massachusetts and as you can imagine Boston, Massachusetts does not have a lot of variety of stylist for people of color. She used to go to Kenya and braid her hair up so that she can come back to the States and live here for months without having to do her hair.
Because she was born in a different climate, Lupita’s hair needed water and moisture to be able to grow and thrive. However, in Boston Massachusetts it was nothing but cold weather, so Lupita’s hair had to get used to that!
Again, this was another transition period for Lupita and her journey to self-acceptance. For Lupita, the braids and protective styling helped her to get through her beginning days of school when she was without fame and access. Nevertheless, after Twelve Days a Slave and meeting Vernon Francis, he was able to pick up where the braids left off and grow her hair out.
This is amazing and something that all of us wish for, a stylist with growing hands who could help our hair reach its full potential and its healthiest state.
“Clay can be dirt in the wrong hands, but clay can be art in the right hands.” – Lupita
A Full Circle Moment
It is incredible to see someone go from self-hate to self-love.
That is what we were able to experience when Lupita spoke out against Grazia magazine and the Photoshop job they did to her naturally kinky hair. Even though we all know it was more than just hair that Lupita was standing up for she affected more than the young children that she aims to impact.
In this world of unrealistic beauty standards, she changed young women who compare themselves to Instagram models on a daily basis. The same young women who buy bundles of hair not for the use of protective styling and the need for a new look but because of their self-loathing and need to camouflage their identity.
Her stance against the fake buzz cut that Grazia forced upon her image is not saying that there’s anything wrong with a western society look, but it’s saying that everything is right about her ethnicity and features. #DTMH
In the words of Solo “What You Say to Me?” Comment below with your stories of kinky hair acceptance!