Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Nyong’o is having one of her best years yet, what with the movie Black Panther, which she starred in, getting so much attention.
In January, she graced the cover of Vogue magazine and now she is the cover girl for Allure magazine’s March 2018 edition. The theme was ‘the culture of hair’ and the actress spoke about her natural hair.
When asked how she felt about her hair growing up, she said: “Well, I didn’t love my hair when I was a child. It was lighter than my skin, which made me not love it so much. I was really kind of envious of girls with thicker, longer, more lush hair.
“In my tween years, I started begging my mother to have my hair relaxed. She wouldn’t allow it, though her hair was relaxed. She felt that that was a decision I could come to when I was maybe 18.
“Around 13 or 14, I had such a rough time with being teased and feeling really unpretty. My dad intervened and spoke to my mom about my hair, and she finally agreed. She took me to the salon in the middle of the school day, and I got my hair relaxed. I felt so much better because it was easier to tame. All the girls in my class had their hair relaxed. Very few had natural kink, so I felt a lot more acceptable.
I had my hair relaxed for most of my teenage years, and that was a whole other world. The upkeep of relaxed hair is a commitment. It took styling it once a week and then having it retouched once a month. I remember doing crazy things, like sleeping with my head above the headboard so that my curls wouldn’t get messed up for the next day. I’d have these terrible neck aches because I was determined to keep my hair as pristine as possible. And it was super expensive.
“When I was about 18 or 19, I didn’t have a job or anything, so it was really my parents paying for my hair. So I was once asking for some more money to get my hair done and my dad joked, ‘Why don’t you just cut it all off?’ And a few months later, I thought to myself, Why don’t I? I went into the hair salon, and I said, ‘Let’s cut it off.’ It was almost a dare to myself: Can I live without hair? He shaved it right off. It was so scary but so liberating because I went completely bald.”
She also spoke about her mum’s reaction to finding out she had cut her hair. She said her mum had no idea and was disappointed when she cut her hair.
Lupita said: “I didn’t tell anybody except for my hairdresser. When I got home, my mother was horrified. She was just like, ‘What have you done to my hair?’ I remember her saying that: ‘I’ve been growing that hair since you were born — how can you?’ Then I felt really self-conscious. It was hard to see the horror on my mother’s face. She was so disapproving, and I was so sensitive about it at the time, that I started to get scared that I had done the wrong thing. And it was cold. All of a sudden I would feel really cold on my head, and I didn’t have hats or the right headwear for a bald head. Eventually my mom came around. I remember once when I was dressed up for church, she actually said, with a very quick mouth, ‘You look nice.’
“That was so good to hear. It took my dad probably two weeks to notice I had no hair! At breakfast, he looked up and said, ‘Hey, where is your hair?’ I said, ‘You said I should cut it.’ He just burst out laughing. He was like, ‘I didn’t mean take it all off.’ We had a good laugh about it. That was definitely a liberating stage. I had nothing to hide behind. I had my hair short for a very long time after that.”