Lupita Nyong’o has never been shy about her ‘African kinky hair’ whilst redefining beauty standards in Hollywood and this is one of many reasons why we love her.
But when the Black Panther actress revealed that she felt empowered after shaving her hair as a teenager we wondered if we could love her anymore.
‘It was almost a dare to myself: Can I live without hair?’ she said of her decision at 18.
‘It was so scary but so liberating because I went completely bald. That was definitely a liberating stage. I had nothing to hide behind. I had my hair short for a very long time after that,’ she said.
The 34-year-old is always trying new looks with her hair on the red carpet but learning to love her natural hair wasn’t something Lupita was always able to do growing up in Kenya.
It’s hard to imagine the star, who plays Nakia in Marvel’s latest superhero film, not confident about her hair because of how much she inspires younger fans around the world, but in her younger years, she admitted she was desperate to relax her hair.
‘I didn’t love my hair when I was a child. I was really kind of envious of girls with thicker, longer, more lush hair,’ Lupita told Allure for her cover story in the magazine’s Culture of Hair issue.
By the time the 12 Years A Slave actress hit her pre-adolescent years she had started begging her mother to allow to relax her hair, a process of chemically straightening out Afro hair.
But her mother was not having it.
‘Around 13 or 14, I had such a rough time with being teased and feeling really unpretty,’ the Mexican-born star said.
Finally, after a lot of discussions, her father intervened and she was allowed to start relaxing her hair.
‘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,’ she said.
‘The upkeep of relaxed hair is a commitment,’ the Star Wars actress admitted. ‘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!’
But when Lupita turned 18 and had to start paying for her hair herself, she knew it was time for a change.
But she didn’t just opt for a simple do-over. Nope. She went for the big chop!
Now, the actress’ hair is ‘the longest it’s been in over a decade’ thanks to the help of her hair stylist Vernon François, who also styled her hair for the Allure cover shoot.
More: Lupita Nyong’o
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, at the Black Panther European Premiere in London last Thursday, the star said she was glad that her character in the film wasn’t just a love interest.
She told us: ‘She’s a well-rounded character, she is about more than just being a love interest. I love that about her.
‘I love that you see her battling grappling with her intimate relationships but she is also about something else, and that is reflective of the world we live in.
‘It’s reflective of me. I want to have intimate relationships but I also am in pursuit of something else.
‘You have to find a way of bringing about balance in your life and it’s important for young girls to see that, that you’re not defined by the man who is pursuing you or the man you are pursuing.’
Black Panther is out 13 February.
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