Photographer who altered Lupita Nyong’o’s hair apologises for “ignorance and insensitivity”

Nyong'o's hair was edited by An Le for a recent 'Grazia' cover

The photographer responsible for altering actress Lupita Nyong’o’s hair for a recent Grazia cover has issued an apology.

The Oscar-winning actress appears on the November cover of Grazia magazine, criticising the publication last week for editing a photo of her so that her hairstyle “fit their notion of what beautiful hair looks like”.

Grazia previously offered a statement, apologising for “not upholding the highest of editorial standards in ensuring that we were aware of all alterations that had been made”. However, the magazine also said 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”.

Photographer An Le has now admitted to altering the image, saying that the edit “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”.

Lupita Nyong'o

Lupita Nyong’o

“I’ve had some time to reflect on my part in the incident involving Grazia and Ms Nyong’o,” he said. “I realise now what an incredibly monumental mistake I have made and I would like to take this time to apologise 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.”

Le added: “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.”

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

A post shared by Lupita Nyong'o (@lupitanyongo) on

Nyong’o has not yet responded to Le’s apology.

Last month, Nyong’o was also among the stars who accused Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault after detailing how he allegedly asked her to massage him after inviting her to his family home.