Photographer Who Edited Out Lupita Nyong’o’s Hair Apologizes


Updated: November 13, 2017

An Lee, the photographer responsible for photoshopping out Lupita Nyong’o’s hair on the cover of Grazia UK magazine, has issued an apology. 

In a statement released to HuffPost UK, Le explains:

“I’ve had some time to reflect on my part in the incident involving Grazia and Ms. Nyong’o. I realize now what an incredibly monumental mistake I have made and I would like to take this time to apologize to Ms Nyong’o and everyone else that I did offend.

“Though it was not my intention to hurt anyone, I can see now that altering the image of her hair was an unbelievably damaging and hurtful act.”"

Le further explains he is an immigrant himself and holds a duty to "be an advocate for the representation of diversity of beauty in this industry," adding, "I will demonstrate this in my work even more going forward.”

To read Le's statement in its entirety, head to HuffPost

After Solange's recent and unfortunate run in with UK publication Evening StandardLupita Nyong’o’ has become the latest celebrity of color forced to exclaim, 'don't touch my hair.' The Star Wars: The Force Awakens actress took to social media to vent her frustrations after seeing that her hair had been edited out on the cover of Grazia UK

"Disappointed that @GraziaUK edited out & smoothed my hair to fit a more Eurocentric notion of what beautiful hair looks like. #dtmh," the actress writes on Twitter before taking to Instagram to express an even lengthier sentiment on the issue. 

"As I have made clear so often in the past with every fiber of my being," the Instagram post begins, "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."

While it doesn't seem to be that complex of an issue to understand, it seems as though publications such as the Evening Standard and Grazia UK have somewhat of a default setting when publicizing black hair for their publications. 

As an actress of Kenyan descent, Nyong’o’ rightfully feels a sense of connection to her hair, which in black communities, can be a complex relationship when paired with how the media chooses to represent it. Nyong’o’s quote continues: 

"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."

Nyong’o’ goes on to explain that had she been consulted, she would have vehemently expressed that she would not condone the airbrushing of her hair as it would be an "omission of what is my native heritage"

In return, when asked for comment by The Fader, Grazia issued this statement:

“Grazia magazine would like to make it clear that at no point did they make any editorial request to the photographer for Lupita Nyong’o’s hair to be altered on this week’s cover, nor did we alter it ourselves.

But we apologise unreservedly for not upholding the highest of editorial standards in ensuring that we were aware of all alterations that had been made.”

It's actually slightly confusing who Grazia is intending to place the blame on, stating they didn't make any editorial requests for the photographer to alter Nyong’o’s hair, but doesn't the team see original shots as well as suggested edits? 

Sounds a bit like pushing the blame off when in reality, the magazine could have been on the progressive side of history by publicizing natural black hair and opening a conversation that normalizes it to the masses as opposed to hiding its presence.