ICYMI: It's Black Panther week y'all!
We only have two more days before Marvel's epic film hits theatres. Which made this the perfect time for Allure to drop their March 2018 cover featuring the movie's star, Lupita Nyong'o. The striking image shows Lupita rocking an intricate braided, beaded style created by her longtime hairstylist, Vernon Francois.
To say the internet is buzzing is an understatement—this cover is like #BlackGirlMagic fireworks. Lupita's photo raked in 191k likes and comments ranging from "Yaaaaaaas! Beautiful!" to "You’re honestly such a queen and I really can’t deal with that."
See for yourself below:
The magazine's Editor-in-Chief, Michelle Lee wrote about the cover saying, "For some, hair can be a daily struggle, a feature to be celebrated, a lightning rod. We decided to devote our March 2018 issue, featuring Black Panther star Lupita Nyong'o, to the culture of hair because hair goes far beyond just how we care for it. It’s been at the center of controversy more than a few times in the past year."
In fact, Lupita was at the center a controversy when a magazine altered her hairstyle in post-production—a similar situation to what happened to Solange Knowles. It got us thinking...how is Black hair represented in the media and did Allure get it right this go around? 10 real women sound off below, see what they had to say and let us know what YOU think too!
"Essentially, it is my belief that the more we unapologetically display our hair, take ownership of it, and provide detailed beauty pieces about it—especially cover stories—the more we begin to erase the painful old 'norms' that said only women with straight hair or White women get to talk about their hair textures, regimens, process, etc.
Beauty books have been long filled with stories about White women's hair journeys. #TimesUp on telling only White women's hair stories and cheers to Lupita and Vernon (who I absolutely adore) for telling a different hair story on a mainstream platform. Afterall, if mainstream means 'for the masses and all,' then it should mean telling all stories.
Now, if people of color began to have more access and equity on the publishing side the way we are gaining in editorial, then we won't have to question the motive of the content. For me, this means our focus should be on getting women of color skin in the game and stake in the publishing." — Kamari Guthurie, 31
"When I first saw the beautiful actress, Lupita Nyong'o on the cover of Allure I thought to myself, here we go; another media outlet trying to get acknowledgement for showing a rich in melanin woman in her most natural state (or ethnic style). But when I began to read the story, I understand the photos more. Lupita co-styled her hair for the shoot with her hairstylist to tell a story abut hair, culture, and beauty, which is so very important in our lives!" — Tweety Elitou, age withheld.
"If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times, 'representation matters!' Seeing a woman that looks like me, rocking a hairstyle that I loved wearing as a child, plastered on the cover of a mainstream beauty mag is everything! More than just Lupita Nyong’o serving face, as per usual, this cover is unapologetically Black AF!
Considering the hoopla surrounding 'boxer braids' and cultural appropriation, it’s dope to see a mainstream pub pay homage to the culture of hair. You know the culture that began centuries before the Kardashians and Bo Derek?" — Jasmine Washington, 28
"I love this Lupita x Allure moment for SO many reasons. The emotional hair journey for women of color is truly one for the books. (Hence my strong feelings towards Kim’s Bo Derek foolishness) I basically grew up in my mom’s African Hair braiding shop (still exists right on 125th in Harlem, Alhamidoulila) and I’ve witnessed HUNDREDS of women and men transform after hours of braids, twists, crotchets, boiling hot water dips, fire, beading.... you name it!
Doing your hair was an occasion for many, but for my family it was our livelihood. Through braiding and styling, my mom built her 'American Dream.' I’m happy to see our stories, Lupita’s story front and center for the world to read, understand and digest. Context is KEY. I pray my future daughter will never have to face the daunting stigmas associated with braids, her Black hair and the antiquated definitions of beauty." — Diarrha N'Diaye, 30
"I’m mean shout out to Lupita! I love to see the celebration of Black women on these type of platforms. However, I feel like diversity is a trend and as soon as it’s not, all of these #blackgirlmagic covers and campaigns will disappear." — Ashlee Graham, 30
"We can all agree that the cover is absolutely stunning. THAT IS ART. I love that a different hairstyle was used here than the traditional 'fro look'. It highlights the uniqueness and versatility of the term Black hair. I only sort of question how genuine Allure is in really wanting to explore the culture of Black hair because most of all us already know how complex the relationship between black women and their hair is. But, how far is Allure willing to cover this? Is this the only time this kinda of topic will surface? It’d be a shame to learn this was just another trendy black culture article." — Maureen Saturne, 31
"Are mainstream mags capitalizing on our culture? Yes, yes, and always yes. But I don't think this cover is an example of that. Calling it the 'Culture of Hair Issue,' allowing Vernon Francois complete creative control, and seeing a traditionally Black hairstyle on a very Black woman is the opposite of capitalizing. Its actually what we are asking for every time we cry appropriation; inclusion, control and the opportunity to use our own voice.
[The cover] its saying that its versatile and belongs on a Black head. Its so easy to throw cornrows and braids ('boxer braids' never forget!) and even beads on a white woman (Hello,Bo Derek!) and call it something else. Putting it on a Black woman and calling the issue 'The Culture of Hair" is very powerful. It is saying this is Black culture and now we are going to let a Black woman illustrate and explain that." — Nichole Alabi, 31
"Unfortunately, this is a time where so many retailers, media outlets and communication agencies are under fire for racial and gender issues within their marketing. With this climate, I think magazines are either doing the most to seem inclusive/not offensive or not doing anything at all/remaining neutral to avoid any outcry. However, Lupita's cover for Allure is beautiful. Her beauty team gets it right EVERY time and I just think Lupita doesn't involve herself in anything that might offend anyone, culturally.
There's nothing that Lupita has done that has not enriched me. I do believe that certain publications capitalize on our culture, for sure, but this was not an instance of that happening in my opinion. Also, I think we give so much power to these mags when it really is in the content and that individual who agrees to participate in that content. The same way we get mad at the editors and writers is the same way we have to start holding these 'influencers' and actors and designers and artists accountable for participating in content that is offensive to our culture." — Dairia Kymber Harvin, 24
"I love that she was her true authentic self on the cover and showcased a number of versatile hairstyles. Curly, braided, afro—I liked it all. It didn't feel like they were capitalizing on the culture, it felt like they had someone on the team who understood Black hair and wasn't afraid to give her different looks with each outfit." — Ayanna Wilks, 31
"To be honest, I’m unimpressed and bored with mainstream magazines now caring about our culture. And I’m more so ready for magazines that are focused or geared towards people of color to step up a bit—and take the conversations on our culture to a new level. I think it’s amazing for mainstream magazines to be inclusive, but it doesn’t feel authentic to me yet. However, the cover is beautiful." —Melanie Yvette, 30
(Photo: Patrick Demarchelier/Allure Magazine)