Gabrielle Union has always been one to take no shit, and that's probably quite a key component in what's kept her career, which spans from the '90s, going so strong in Hollywood. She's also used her platform to open up conversations about everything from sexual assault and abuse to human rights and more recently, slavery in Libya.
In a recent interview with Byrdie, she spoke about the media's attitude towards blackness, referring specifically to the cases of two magazines digitally editing out Solange Knowles and Lupita N'yongo's natural hair, both of which received widespread backlash. Talking about the two occasions, Union said: “My thing is if you want them on your cover, you want them. 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.”
But this problem, Union adds, goes beyond the magazines and Photoshop. The Bring It On actress has encountered several problems throughout the length of her career when she turns up on set wearing her natural hair. This is a result of hair stylists on photo shoots and film sets often being less trained on how to properly care for, and subsequently style, black hair. The same goes for make up, where many people of colour find their skin lightened as a result of lack of beauty products suited to darker skin and/or the way that the make up artist has been trained to work with different skin types and shades.
“There’s a larger conversation with people of colour when it comes to our hair and our skin colour,” she said. “People will try to lighten our skin tones and alter our hair, which says a lot about how we feel about ourselves versus how people feel about our blackness and textured hair. We need to showcase the fullness of beauty.”
“The idea that how you wear your hair somehow relates to your character, your intelligence, or your wokeness is bullshit,” she added. “And if you get into the Eurocentric beauty ideals that the [black community] has adopted ourselves at times, it's even more maddening. We're all on our hair journey, and everyone's journey is beautiful and valid and amazing.”
Hells yes, Gabrielle!