Gabrielle Union challenges beauty standards, says braids are “professional”

ABC/Image Group (LOS ANGELES) — Gabrielle Union is challenging mainstream beauty standards in a new interview with the UK’s Byrdie.

Union expresses her thoughts on the recent digital altering of Solange Knowles and Lupita Nyong’o’s natural hairstyles. Knowles called out the Evening Standard magazine, while Nyong’o called out Grazia after they noticed their hairstyles were retouched without their approval. Both publications later apologized for their actions.

My thing is if you want them on your cover, you want them,” Union said. “Why would you change who they are? You obviously want them for all that they bring to the table, so show all of them. You don’t need to re-create the wheel — they’re amazing and beautiful on their own.”

Union then added, “There’s a larger conversation with people of color when it comes to our hair and our skin color. People will try to lighten our skin tones and alter our hair, which says a lot of about how we feel about ourselves versus how other people feel about our blackness and textured hair. We need to showcase the fullness of our beauty. 

The Being Mary Jane actress also shared her own experiences with hair, such as when producers told her that braids were not “professional.”

“I was doing a project and with the character the producers were coming up with what they wanted to do for her hair,” Union recalled. “And they were like, ‘She’s beautiful, sophisticated, and professional.’ I was like, ‘Well, I want to wear braids.'”

Union continued, “And and they were like, ‘Well, I mean, she’s beautiful, sophisticated, and corporate America.’ I responded, ‘Yes, and specifically I want twists.’ And they went on to say, ‘We just really want her to look more polished.’ I said, ‘You all really don’t understand what are we talking about here?'”

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