High fashion powerhouse, Vogue, dropped an artful video featuring Lupita Nyong’o today, and just like every other time Queen Lupita does anything, the Internet went wild. This video didn’t feature Lupita performing a monologue or stunting on us with her fashion as usual, but it showed her engaging in one of her favorite hobbies: braiding hair. What can’t she do?!
In the short video titled “Braids,” Lupita tells us about how her aunt taught her to braid and twist, as she corn rows a friends hair on camera. All while looking fly, I might add. Her desire to learn the craft came from a disappointing visit to a braid shop in NYC while she was an undergraduate. Throughout the video she skillfully braids the hair of her six closest friends, and shares some of her views on braiding and hair with a subtle passion that is genuinely beautiful. In her eyes, braiding someone’s hair can be “intimate”. She saw it as her “side hustle” and a hobby that gave her the opportunity to connect with others. The short clip is a cute look into her life that adds to her enigmatic presence in pop culture, but also humanizes her, and makes her more relatable. As an African woman myself, it was great to see her doing something that so many women in my family do in their day to day lives. Hair braiding is a cultural symbol that is engrained in the community of black Americans and Africans throughout the Diaspora that has recently been co-opted by sources of high fashion media. As braids show up on runways and fashion spreads, they are becoming trendy, and people who are blind to elements of black culture have believed it to be a “new” hairstyle. In some ways this video helps take ownership back, all while embracing the art form of braiding and natural hair itself.
In cultures across the world, hair is a woman’s crowning glory. To me it’s a physical expression of oneself and identity. Natural hair, and the beauty of black women in general is often chastised and belittled in our society, and that’s one of the many reasons Lupita has been such a breath of fresh air. She is a different picture of “black womanhood”, and to many the physical manifestation of the black woman that is often forgotten in mainstream media. “Braids” is a simple but poignant embrace of the beauty of black hair, African culture, and Lupita herself. I loved it and I encourage you to watch it here!
photo credit: http://hiphollywood.com/2014/06/braided-up-lupita-nyongo-reveals-haircare-hobby/