Letting Hair Define You | Lupita Nyong's Story
As women, our hair is an important, defining feature that allows for self expression. It carries life, culture, and personality; it allows us to outwardly express a small portion of who we are as an individual – it is a reflection of our identity. Hair and self-expression ultimately go hand and hand, and actress, Lupita Nyong’o talks to Porter magazine to explain why.
Lupita used this opportunity to turn a personal issue into a public statement: no one should ever touch her hair, period. “My hair is something that, historically, has been shunned,” she states. “I mean, how often do you hear ‘You can’t get a job with hair like that’? . . . Natural, African, kinky hair – it’s often been painted as uncivilized or wild.”
For too long, we have allowed society to tell us what is beautiful, what we should look like, or strive to look like. But perfection is both unrealistic and unreachable, because, guess what? No one is perfect! There is no one, simple, generic way to look. A woman's hair speaks volumes, it expresses the balance between femininity and culture. It symbolizes the complexity and strength of, both, the individual and their background. And expressing creativity through dyeing and experimenting with one’s hair is also a huge part of this.
Rose Weitz, a gender studies professor at Arizona State University, also spoke to TODAY about the the relationship between hair and perception. “And [hair is] malleable; we can change it so easily in ways that we can’t change any other part of our body. It becomes a reflection of who that person is, and a sign of our identity.”
And our identity directly correlates to our heritage. The importance of hair transcends culture, and its meaning and symbolism varies, depending on the social and cultural context. For Lupita, hair is deeply symbolic – its meaning deep and wide, extending into multiple dimensions of Black culture and life.
Lupita uses her hair as a celebration of her diverse African heritage; something she is honored to do: “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.”
For more on professor Rose Weitz, see below her interview with TODAY.