Today when we see Lupita Nyong’o, we see a confident woman. But it hasn’t always been this way. In the latest issue of Allure, the Oscar-winning Mexi-Kenyan actress opened up about the times she felt self-conscious and how hair played a role in the way she viewed herself. “Around 13 or 14, I had such a rough time with being teased and feeling really unpretty,” she told Allure. “My dad intervened and spoke to my mom about my hair, and she finally agreed. She took me to the salon in the middle of the school day, and I got my hair relaxed. 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.”

While she detailed the difficulties of finding a hair salon in Amherst, Massachusetts and how the Kenyan salon she frequented didn’t know what to do with her natural hair. Though born in Mexico, Lupita didn’t grow up in the Latin American country. However, she did return as a young adult to learn more about this country. This is a part of her life that we haven’t learned too much about to date, but in the interview with Allure, she touches on how she also didn’t fit Mexico’s beauty standards.

“The beauty standards had nothing to do with me in Mexico,” she said. “It was such a bizarre, dire time for my hair. I was living in a small town where there was not any semblance of an African community. I’d have to take the bus to Mexico City to find a woman who could braid my hair. That was two and a half hours away.”

Now, Lupita finds herself in a completely different place, partially because her hairstylist Vernon François has taught her the best ways to care for her hair. To read all about Lupita’s hair journey, visit Allure.

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