The photographer who airbrushed the hair of the Oscar-winning actor Lupita Nyong’o on the cover of Grazia magazine has apologised for an “incredibly monumental mistake”.
An Le said he recognised that the altering of parts of Nyong’o’s hair was an “unbelievably damaging and hurtful act”.
An Le’s apology comes days after the ’12 Years A Slave’ star accused Grazia of altering her hair to “fit a more Eurocentric notion of what beautiful hair looks like”.
She had published before and after shots on her Instagram page, showing that her natural hair had been airbrushed out.
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. #dtmh
In a statement, An Le, a Vietnamese photographer based in New York, confirmed that he edited the picture and that the change “was not born out of any hate, but instead out of my own ignorance and insensitivity to the constant slighting of women of colour throughout the different media platforms”.
“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.
“As an immigrant myself, it is my duty to be an advocate for the representation of diversity of beauty in this industry. I will demonstrate this in my work even more going forward.
“My altering of her image was not born out of any hate but instead out of my own ignorance and insensitivity to the constant slighting of women of color throughout the different media platforms.
He concluded: “There is no excuse for my actions. I deeply regret the pain I’ve caused Ms Nyong’o, a woman I’ve admired for quite some time now. Again, I would like to say I’m deeply sorry to everyone I did offend. I want to thank Lupita for addressing this important issue.”
Grazia Magazine has also issued a statement on the matter, saying: “Grazia is committed to representing diversity throughout its pages and apologises unreservedly to Lupita Nyong’o.
“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 that we were aware of all alterations that had been made.”