Lupita Nyong’O recently had an interview with Fashion Company. net-a-porter.
In her interview, Lupita Nyong’o credited the Natural Hair movement to African Americans.
She thanked them for starting the revolution that inspired Black Women world wide to embrace their natural hair.
During the interview, Lupita Nyong’O said:
EMBRACE YOUR FABULOUS HAIR: “I don’t feel defined by my hair, and I think that’s why I like to play with it. I remember when I was a teenager in Kenya, I had relaxed hair and I decided on a whim that I was going to cut it all off and grow my hair natural. I’d been going to the same hairstylist for years – he was a Kenyan, like me, and when I went natural, he didn’t know what to do with it.
He was like, ‘They don’t teach us how to style natural hair in school.’ There’s been a whole revolution, led by African America for sure, where we are embracing our natural hair texture and returning to a past glory. You look at beautiful traditional hairdos from pre-colonial and colonial times and they have been erased from so much of our contemporary expression.
I remember one of the first times I really saw African hairstyles preserved and celebrated as art was through the photographic lens of Leni Riefenstahl. I was 10 years old and had not truly seen images of natural pre-colonial hairstyles beyond our Kenyan borders. At the time, I wasn’t familiar with Riefenstahl’s work as a Nazi propagandist and that, in and of itself, is highly problematic, because this deeply colonialist, white supremacist gaze was introducing me to the people and hairstyles of the Nuba, Dinka and Shilluk of Sudan.
Essentially, even when we as a colonized or oppressed people are engaging with images or notions of our ancestry, it is so often within a Eurocentric gaze. That idea has stayed with me. Now at least it seems like we are waking up to ourselves again, and are like, ‘Hey, hold on, wait a minute…’ Our hair is kind of fabulous and it’s like clay and we can do all sorts of things with it.”