Curlies, we’ve been royally baited and switched.

Solange Knowles with blonde cornrows on the cover of ES Magazine
Solange Knowles/ES Magazine

Who amongst us wasn’t thrilled to see Solange’s golden cornrows front and center on the cover of a magazine? It’s still a rarity to see black traditional hairstyles on a mainstream medium, and because the progress is slow, we tend to celebrate every little gain.

Then the other shoe dropped.

As it turned out, the cornrows weren’t actually the whole hair story. Solange had a giant, geometric braid halo and bun continuing to light things up behind her head in a way that the cover of the magazine didn’t quite capture. Which is a charitable way of saying… they photoshopped it out.

Britney Spears turns to the camera in wide eyed disbelief
Britney Spears/ The Voice

Um. Why?

Solange isn’t exactly known for understated fashion, right? People know that. The people that asked her to appear knew that. These calls/emails go through several people over several days, so no one should have been surprised.

ES Magazine did publish an apology for their error. My issue with it though is that ultimately the bisected braid circle and bun were ART. Stylists Joanne Petit-Frere and Vernon Francois worked with Solange to make something you wouldn’t have seen anywhere else. To crop out part of a unique art piece citing “layout purposes” is… let’s be real, it’s nonsensical. And unfortunately, it’s hard to keep giving publications the benefit of the doubt as they KEEP making these sorts of missteps. “We’re sorry we lightened this artist’s skin, it just looked better with the backdrop.” “We’re sorry we shrank this actress’s nose, we just thought we were contouring her whole face a bit better.” “We didn’t think modeling sportswear meant her hair had to look in place, even if every other model’s does.” And so on.

Solange Knowles and her full hairdo emerge from a velvet curtain in a bespoke white dress
Solange Knowles/ ES Magazine

Now it is worth pointing out that Solange’s geometrical hair sculpture does appear in full within the magazine. But that brings us to a question that curlies, especially curly POC in Eurocentric spaces, have been facing for some time. Why is our hair’s fullness good enough BEHIND closed doors only? This isn’t exactly an errant nipple we’re talking about here, it’s…well, I never thought I’d say this in earnest, but IT’S JUST HAIR.

I know what some of y’all are already thinking.

“April, it’s not even that serious, it’s a celebrity, focus on hate crimes instead”, and to that I say this. I, like all healthy adults, am capable of holding more than one thought in my head, and more than one concern in my heart. And as much as this may seem like a mosquito bite compared to an amputation, when you have enough of a swarm, you can still get sucked dry. I’m not willing to dismiss every metaphorical parasite based on individual effect when we’re still out here swatting at legions of them.

To borrow from someone somewhat close to her—baby, I can’t see your halo. And I’m not happy.

What say you, NaturallyCurly world? Are there any graphic editors amongst you that can see the reasoning behind ESW’s decision? Anyone that didn’t read my last full paragraph wanting to tell me how upset I shouldn’t be? Let us know in the comments!