Lupita Nyong’o Stars in VOGUE Mini-Documentary

“Mama’s little baby loves shortenin’ shortenin’/ mama’s little baby loves shorternin’ bread…”

The memory of sitting between mama’s legs while she tussled with the coarseness of my hair always brings this tune to mind. I don’t know if it’s just the essence of the chant that offers a soothing and nurturing appeal or the combination of mama teaching me self-maintenance and showing her love while fighting through the war that lives within the thickness of my tresses.

But I love it.

Hair braiding began as a cultural gem. Now widely spread throughout the world, it has become a trait of style and fashion. Criss-crossed designs, straight backs, corn rolled and Bantu knots adorn the manes of women and men everywhere. It is beautiful, unique and displays visual creativity.

I remember when braiding became a trend – often a reason for high school fellas to sit between a young ladies legs (Ha! – slick). I, unfortunately never learned the technique. But I remember mama’s hands shiny with oils twisting and interlocking strain by strain. She would wipe sweat from her forehead from the beaming heat of the sun during the summer, and enjoy a TV program to make the braiding journey enjoyable than it really is during fall and winter evenings.

Lupita Nyong’o, who is having an amazing year in film and fashion, graces the July cover of Vogue Magazine. The extension of this piece unfolds in a mini-documentary directed by Austin Peters and produced by Vogue, showcasing one of her favorite pastimes — hair braiding.

The mini-doc artistically shows Nyong’o styling six of her closest friends’ hair while expressing the joy of braiding and the connection it brings.

“For me braiding hair is an intimate thing, up and close and I like to do it for people that I know and love and trust. I think I‘m attracted to people who are honest and expressive,” she says in the doc.

What was once intended to be a “side hustle” while continuing her theater studies in New York has become a purposeful outlet for storytelling and self-expression.

Watch the mini-doc below: