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'I deeply regret the pain I've caused': American photographer who altered Grazia cover shot of Lupita Nyong'o by 'smoothing' out her natural hair apologises for 'monumental mistake'

  • An Le said he was 'deeply sorry' for altering the image that appeared in Grazia
  • Photographer admitted doing so was 'an unbelievably damaging and hurtful act'
  • Lupita Nyong'o had published before and after shots on her Instagram page
  • Nyong'o said she was 'disappointed' with Grazia for digitally removing her hair in order to 'fit a more Eurocentric notion of what beautiful hair looks like' 

The photographer who altered the Grazia cover shot of Lupita Nyong'o by 'smoothing' out her natural hair has apologised for the 'monumental mistake'.

Nyong'o, 34, who grew up in Kenya, appears on the front of this month's Grazia.

The magazine apologised to the Oscar winner after she accused the publication of altering her hair 'to fit a more Eurocentric notion' of beauty.

The original photograph featured her natural hair, which is tied back, but this was edited out for the cover photo, which showed her with what looked like a buzz cut.

The photographer who airbrushed part of Lupita Nyong'o's hair from a Grazia magazine cover has apologised 

The photographer who airbrushed part of Lupita Nyong'o's hair from a Grazia magazine cover has apologised 

It was from the UK-based magazine's November edition. 

Photographer An Le, a Vietnamese photographer based in New York, said in a statement: 'I've had some time to reflect on my part in the incident involving Grazia and Ms Nyong'o.

'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.'

He added: '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 colour throughout the different media platforms.

'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.'

The Oscar winner shared two versions of the original image and said she would never have agreed to the change if consulted as she wants to prove to people that natural hair is beautiful
The Oscar winner shared two versions of the original image and said she would never have agreed to the change if consulted as she wants to prove to people that natural hair is beautiful

The Oscar winner shared two versions of the original image and said she would never have agreed to the change if consulted as she wants to prove to people that natural hair is beautiful

Nyong'o, said being featured on the cover 'fulfilled her' but was disappointed the magazine had 'smoothed' out her hair to 'fit their notion of what beautiful hair looks like'.  

The Oscar-winning star had posted before and after photographs on Instagram from the magazine shoot.

She told her followers: 'Disappointed that Grazia UK edited out and smoothed my hair to fit a more Eurocentric notion of what beautiful hair looks like. #dtmh (don't touch my hair)'.

And the Star Wars: The Last Jedi actress added: 'As I have made clear so often in the past with every fibre 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 fulfils 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 Grazia UK 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.'

Lupita said she was hoping to inspire people with the cover, by showing them that natural hair is beautiful 

Lupita said she was hoping to inspire people with the cover, by showing them that natural hair is beautiful 

A spokesperson for Grazia UK told MailOnline the magazine had not asked for the image to be altered, suggesting the picture had already been airbrushed when they received it.

'Grazia is committed to representing diversity throughout its pages and apologises unreservedly to Lupita Nyong'o,' they said.

'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.'

The actress said she was 'disappointed' the magazine changed her hairstyle to 'fit their notion of what beautiful hair looks like'

The actress said she was 'disappointed' the magazine changed her hairstyle to 'fit their notion of what beautiful hair looks like'

Last month, the Evening Standard newspaper apologised to Solange Knowles for digitally altering an image of the singer on the cover of its magazine.

Knowles – who has released a song called 'Don't Touch My Hair' – complained on Instagram that an elaborate braided crown on her head had been digitally removed from the cover photo.

The magazine article featured the singer talking about her experiences spending time at her mother's salon as a child. 

She also discussed braiding's importance to her and praised it as 'its own art form.' 

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