Solange Knowles is mad at ES Magazine for Photoshopping her braids

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Solange Knowles got the cover of ES Magazine, the in-house weekly magazine for the British paper the Evening Standard. The above cover shot is what the editors of ES Magazine chose. It’s a striking image, Solange is giving FACE, and I can understand why the editors liked this image for the cover shot. But there’s a problem! Apparently, this cover shot has been photoshopped to hell and back and there’s a racial element to it. The original image (which Solange posted to her Instagram) shows that Solange was photographed with an elaborate braided-headpiece look:

dtmh @eveningstandardmagazine

A post shared by Solange (@saintrecords) on

I had to look up “DTMH” because I am not cool. It’s an acronym for “don’t touch me ho.” Update: apparently it means “don’t touch my hair.” Here’s a bit more – this whole thing sounds like a fiasco from start to finish:

Solange took to Instagram Stories with a repost of the cover and made her discontent known when she circled the blank space where the braid originally was. The Grammy winner, who released the song “Don’t Touch My Hair” as part of her third studio album, captioned the original image on her account with the abbreviation “dtmh.” Solange even spoke about the significance of hair braiding in her interview with the magazine, calling it “its own art form.”

“I got to experience women arriving in one state of mind and leaving in a completely transformed way,” she recalled to the magazine of her experiences at her mother’s salon. “It wasn’t just about the hair. It was about the sisterhood and the storytelling. Being a young girl who was really active in dance, theatre and on the swim team, the salon was a kind of safe haven.”

Meanwhile, the piece’s writer, Angelica Bastien, took to Twitter to reject the piece. “I am publicly disowning the Solange piece London Evening Standard published today. The entire piece was a fiasco despite my efforts,” she wrote on Twitter. “I told my editors to take my name off of the byline because they distorted my work and reporting in ways that made me very uncomfortable. Disowning the piece this publicly is meant to get across my displeasure with what was published,” Bastien continued. “I don’t want this piece attached to my rep as a writer at all. Hopefully disowning it gets that across.”

[From E! News]

The Evening Standard later apologized to Solange – you can read their apology here. You can also read the original interview here, which as E! News reported, the actual interviewer wants no part of. Solange apparently stood up Angelica Bastien because she (Solange) was getting this braid work done. But the piece reads as an eyeroll to Solange, like Solange is kind of an a–hole who just wants to talk about the pyramids at Giza and not talk about her family. Eh.

Incidentally, I understand why the editor chose to Photoshop out Solange’s braids. I’m not saying it was the right call, I just understand why it was done editorially and visually, and that’s because if they had included the too-high “headpiece” aspect of the braids in the cover shot, there would be too much “dead space” on the cover and they wouldn’t have been able to crop it close enough to Solange’s face.

A post shared by Solange (@saintrecords) on

Photos courtesy of ES Magazine and Solange’s IG.

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72 Responses to “Solange Knowles is mad at ES Magazine for Photoshopping her braids”

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  1. Beth says:

    Are those things actually earrings?

    • shlockOftheNEw says:

      Why do people get so snarky regarding avant garde? Yeah, those “things” are actual earrings, they emanate from the ears, a globally diverse adornment and aren’t always “lady like” studs. Anyway, I think Solange has really grown into her unique style, I love that she challenges the basic, brings art into editorials.

  2. teehee says:

    I mean duh. It wont fit in the picture. Leaving the end may raise a lot of questions, “what is that on her head”– maybe they could have included a full pic inside? Any noob will understand this.

    • MostlyMegan says:

      I agree. Anyone who agrees to do a headshot for a magazine and then installs a headpiece (?) that is 2 feet above their head is being rather unreasonable. I love Solange’s fashion but come on. That’s silly.

      • Faye says:

        I don’t really get it? She’s been in magazines before, she knows what to expect. In a perfect world someone would have said something to her, and maybe they did, but I’m not sure what she expects. Magazines do all sorts of wacky shit in editing.

    • QueenB says:

      Are you qualified to talk about this? You know in terms of your race.

      • Joanwatsonismygirl says:

        And who made you qualified to ask this question and judge its answer?

        Not everything has to be about race.

        Imagine a cover a magazine with a close up shot and then there’s a tiny hint of a hair or a braid sticking straight up and out of the model’s head and continuing out of sight of the photo. It would look odd. It would look odd on any model of any race. Stop making everything an issue.

      • Jazzie30 says:

        @Joanwatsonismygirl, I agree with you completely and I’m a woman of color.

      • lisa says:

        You have to be black to comment on a design aesthetic for a magazine cover that includes a black subject? Really, QueenB?

  3. Wren33 says:

    I mean, the braids are fantastic and go really well with the structure of the earrings, but I understand why the cover editor might think that that kind of dead space on the cover (as opposed to an interior shot with more body and context) doesn’t work. However, I also understand why Solange or any other black woman is not going to give the media or society at large any sort of benefit of the doubt.

    • tracking says:

      +1 on both counts. It’s a gorgeous shot, and I understand they wanted a close-up of her face, but they really should simply have reserved it for an interior photo and selected another for the cover.

  4. Lynnie says:

    Lmao nah there are no excuses for cropping it. You either choose a different braiding style if you’re that worried about dead space, or you choose another photo that manages to fit the hairstyle and achieve the aesthetics you want. It’s 2017 it’s not that hard.

    DTMH obviously is referencing her song not the slang phrase lmao.

    I don’t know what ES thought was gonna happen when the cover popped up especially given Solange’s outspokenness. Makes me think they wanted her for the look and gave lip service to everything else about her smh.

    I’m confused as to why the writer disowned her piece? Is it because she clashed with Solange, or did the magazine just muck it up?

    All in all this is what we call a meSS which is a shame, because Solange deserves more.

    • Christina Hohorst says:

      Agreed, Lynnie. It’s kind of the point of her album. Solange’s whole persona and album are about presenting a specific image as a Black woman. Why’d they ask her to pose and cut out the most striking, and ethnic, part of her look?

      • Megan says:

        I get that is the point of her album, but braid crowns are deeply symbolic in African communities and are reserved for very specific people and rituals. Creating a blond braid crown for a magazine shoot feels off to me.

    • Shambles says:

      “You either choose a different braiding style if you’re that worried about dead space, or you choose another photo that manages to fit the hairstyle and achieve the aesthetics you want.”

      The way I read it, it sounds like Solange chose this braided style, not the people at ES mag. It doesn’t sound to me like the magazine decided on this hairstyle and then later photoshopped it out, more like this was Solange’s idea and they didn’t go with it. Which, IMO, is their right as the editors of a magazine. If the model chooses her own hairstyle and it doesn’t work for their cover, I think they have a right to decide against that. The issue, it seems, is that they weren’t clear at all with Solange and there was no communication, and that’s definitely f*cked up. And, of course, they were totally tone deaf to the racial undertones of messing with a black woman’s hair.

      • Lynnie says:

        I mean I see your point, but what I really wanted to say is Holaaaaaa where have you been?? Haven’t seen your name in awhile 😊👋🏾

      • Bridget says:

        I read it the same way. Solange got the braiding done independent of the shoot.

      • Shambles says:

        Oh hai! This just made my day, and I needed it because this Monday has been weird af so far. I’ve been around, I just work more in the early mornings now 🙂 hope all is well with you!!

    • jugil1 says:

      @ Lynnie, Yes I thought the DTMH referenced her song “Don’t Touch My Hair”. So how did that get translated to “Don’t touch me ho”? LOL

    • Imqrious2 says:

      Asking in all honesty and respect, could it *possibly* be for publicity for the song of the same name as the hashtag?

      • Lynnie says:

        Highlyyyyyyyyyyy highly doubt it seeing as how the album itself has been out for awhile (at least a year if I’m not mistaken), and press for the singles/the album itself is winding down. Secondly,this would be such a roundabout way in trying to drum up attention for it, the song itself has gotten lost in the overall message about ES’s choice. I think her use of the hashtag was her realizing the unfortunate irony in having a song about this topic, and yet it happening to her anyway imo.

      • mynameispearl says:

        just as an FYI because some other commenters have asked, the inside of the magazine had 3 full page shots of the braids, from a variety of angles. I guess they could have let her know that the image wouldnt work on the cover due to sizing issues, or put someone else on the cover if she didn’t want the image to be cropped?

        the resizing of the image to fit in all of the braids would have meant her face would appear totally small, plus text would have had to go through the centre of the braid which just would have looked odd.

      • imqrious2 says:

        Thank you for replying 😊

      • Bellagio DuPont says:

        I think Solange might be taking herself (and this issue) just a tiny, incy, wincy bit too seriously here.

        She still looks great on the cover, why not just enjoy it? 😐

  5. Miss S says:

    Hummm… ok then.

  6. Christina Hohorst says:

    Dtmh means “Don’t touch my hair”. It’s the title of a song on her new album that’s about the fetishisation of black features. Sometime white folk like to touch a Black woman’s hair and don’t ask permission. It makes them feel like zoo animals.

    • jwoolman says:

      I remember black students complaining in the 1970s about the hair touching weirdness when paired with white roommates (freshmen didn’t choose their roommates but were just assigned). They were petitioning for an all-black dorm to get away from the zoo animal feeling. One student said they were tired of being part of white students’ liberal education… People were screaming “reverse discrimination” but I felt they had a point. I was surrounded by guys in my department and it felt so relaxing to go to lunch with a female friend from another department, not feeling like the token representing every woman in the world.

      On the other hand, back in high school I was at a basketball game and a young woman visiting from some Asian country asked if she could touch my limp straight baby-fine hair… I was rather startled but let her do it. I guess she had never seen that particular hair texture before. Nobody before or since has been that fascinated by my hair, other than an occasional cat. But I guess it illustrates that if you really have never seen something before, it’s natural to want to touch it. At least my hair-toucher asked first, though.

      The phenomenon really just reveals how many white people in the US have never actually been around people who are black. There are many communities where this would be so. Likewise there are communities that have never seen a foreign tourist and have never heard a language other than English spoken except in a language class.

    • Nicole says:

      Exactly was going to point this out. It’s don’t touch my hair. A common phrase that every black woman has probably uttered too many times in her life

      • lala says:

        I have curly hair, people are always touching it. I hate it so so much because I am too polite to tell them to fuck off. Why do people feel entitled to touch someone?

      • I have naturally red hair. Like seriously red. Like epic ginge. People touch my hair every so often. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have people constantly wanting to touch your hair and be all in your space like you’re some kind of specimen to be examined. How utterly disrespectful.

  7. Frosty says:

    Tempest in a teapot.

  8. edith says:

    they could have just cropped it and then include the full picture inside. photoshop never saves anything

    • jwoolman says:

      I also wondered why they didn’t do that, and just asked her if that would be ok. The cover pic really does look good. It would have been interesting for people to open up to the article and see the full picture. Would explain why the cover looks as though she doesn’t have much hair…. Most of it was really up higher!

    • Sweet Dee says:

      That’s exactly what they did do. The full picture was in the editorial inside the magazine. Thy just didn’t include it on the cover because it wouldn’t have fit

  9. Mei says:

    That was my first thought also, that the cover wouldn’t have looked half as good if they had kept the whole braided headpiece in. The issues with this are 1/ Did they not think about the headpiece and its look on the cover/did they not discuss this with her? 2/ Why didn’t they explain/ask her to approve the decision on the edit and 3/ The incorrect reporting of what the interview actually was.

    To be fair, if Solange did just laugh off the fact that the reporter had been trying to contact her since 11am, then that is some serious ar$ehole/entitled-ness. But as I don’t know the actual situation I can’t say.

    • lucy2 says:

      That’s what I’m wondering – didn’t they all discuss it with her? Wouldn’t that have been the logical and professional thing to do, tell her it won’t work for the cover but would be included in the other photos? It seems like they airbrushed it out but didn’t tell her?

      • Mei says:

        Clearly the ES editors/picture editors/anyone who could have asked either didn’t care or didn’t think it was a big deal. They should know people will speak up if they edit pictures/articles disrespectfully.

  10. Imo says:

    Wouldn’t….. “don’t touch my hair” make more sense? Given the content of the article….i mean, i don’t understand

  11. Bridget says:

    I love the headpiece in general, but specifically in this image, it doesn’t work. It changes the nature of the photograph and it becomes too much empty space up top. The image is no longer balanced. By editing it out, the image becomes much more dynamic immediately.

    Are there other images, and this was just intended to be a part of an editorial? Did they just love this one so much they wanted to make it the cover? I have questions, because I don’t understand why that hairstyle would have been chosen for a cover shot in the first place.

  12. Tanesha86 says:

    Kaiser dtmh is also short for don’t touch my hair which I think Solange was saying. They never should have edited her hair out without her knowledge.

  13. Wren says:

    It’s too bad they didn’t have any shots they could use without the braided piece but I totally see why they took it out. The cover would have looked awful, way too much dead space and her face would have had to be tiny.

    Oh well. It sounds like there was a lack of planning here. Why didn’t the photographer see the problems with such a hairstyle when you’re going for a cover shot? Or maybe the editor chose poorly. Perhaps there was a full body shot that would have worked visually with the braids included.

  14. MissAmanda says:

    I think it means “don’t touch my hair” not “don’t touch me ho”

    and the first thing I noticed when these photos (and the cover) came out, was that they ‘shopped out the hair. I figured they did it because it fit on the cover a little cleaner, but i can see how Solange took it as a personal attack on her style and the story she wanted to tell.

  15. Erinn says:

    Who picked the headpiece style braids? Was that Solange, or was it someone the magazine employs? Either way, it’s on the people organizing the shoot- they should have known it’d be a problem for the cover shot. They could have styled something different for the end of the shoot so that they could have an easily usable photo.

    I’m going to guess that whoever did the cover setup wasn’t the person who took the photos. I think the hair looks amazing and the photos look great – but for them to have fit the hairstyle into the cover of that magazine – Solange as a whole would have had to have been reduced down in size – which would have looked strange, too. It’s not just about the empty space around her hair – there would have been a lot of empty space on the sides as well. The other option would be to cut down the amount of dress showing – which would have looked strange as well, and I assume the clothes should probably be featured at least somewhat. I can imagine there would have been a “why did she get sized down so much? She’s the cover – why are they minimizing how much space she takes up?”

    I get why they did it – but it shouldn’t have happened like it did. There should have been some more alternate styling happening to ensure a good cover composition.

    That being said – you wouldn’t believe how many people can’t grasp basic shapes when it comes to photos. I’m constantly being sent in portrait style photos that customers expect to fill a 2000px wide by 400px tall website banner. Some people realize right away why things get cropped strangely to fill the area – but some people you really have to walk through the explanation. They think you can zoom out a photo even when the photo ‘ends’ at the edges. As if somehow more of their photo can be magically displayed despite only a certain amount of space being captured by the camera. However, this isn’t the case with the professionals who did this shoot/cover. They should darn well know how shapes/angles/photo orientation works considering that is their job.

    • lucy2 says:

      Ugh, so many people don’t get the whole portrait/landscape thing. I’ve had many people want me to change a photo or painting from one to the other, but of course without cropping or whatever. Because I can magically do that?

  16. Veronica says:

    Did they edit it out of the entire magazine or just on the front cover? Because I can see why she’s annoyed if they did the former. That’s a pretty nifty hairstyle and one that clearly took a lot of work to accomplish.

  17. CMIddy says:

    I think she is fantastically stylish, I love her music and I understand her frustration about part of her vision in terms of the braiding being unilaterally cropped (I agree it sucks). However, I am surprised there is not more commentary regarding the fact she simply failed to turn up for an interview. I am sure that this is something a lot of famous people do, but to me it seems incredibly rude.

  18. Cherry says:

    Cropping out hairpieces aside, I don’t quite get what went wrong with the interview to make the journalist publicly disowning it…? I mean, that’s a pretty strong statement to make: “The entire piece was a fiasco despite my efforts”? So the editors “distorted” her work “in ways that made me very uncomfortable”? I read the piece and didn’t think anything was wrong with it? So Solange doesn’t want to talk about her sister and the elevator incident, and she didn’t show up for the interview, joking that it was because she was getting her braids done. I don’t get why any of that would read as “an eyeroll to Solange, like Solange is kind of an a–hole who just wants to talk about the pyramids at Giza and not talk about her family.”

    • Miss S says:

      What stood out for me was that the journalist didn’t make a point about defending Solange either, which I thought she would when I started to read her statement. So it seems to me she is going after the magazine but also doesn’t have anything nice to say about Solange. It was my interpretation.

    • Bridget says:

      I am perplexed by this as well. Reading between the lines, I can’t imagine that the writer was thrilled with having spent 9 hours in a coffee shop frantically trying to get her interview subject to show up or talk to her. Considering that they referenced both Solange and the author catching flights, I’m guessing that they had to reschedule the whole thing.

  19. Elisa says:

    If you actually click thru and read the article and see the pictures, Solange apparently stood up the writer for 9 hours so she could get the braids done, on her own, for her tour. (I guess the photoshoot was sometime during this time?) All of the inside pictures were with the full headpiece, including a really striking picture where you can see the braid details and the details of her earrings. I like Solange, but honestly in this case, I think she’s in the wrong. The cover would have been way off, layout wise, if they had included her headpiece. And it WAS included, inside. And yeah… Who adds 2 feet to the top of their head when they have a magazine photoshoot scheduled???

  20. Doc says:

    There is not an ounce of authenticity in either her or her sister. They both seem (to me) like they rip off other unknown artists. Solange specifically not one so unknown- to me she looks like she’s trying to rip off Corinne Bailey Rae’s everything. So many ughs 😑 at the both of them.

  21. stinky says:

    Since when does any ‘covel girl’ have a say about ANYthing ?
    They don’t get to editorialize, select the content, or dictate the graphics & formatting of the magazine they’re featured on – jeez.
    Solange is def a beauty tho, for sure!

  22. hollah says:

    Cropping would look ridiculous because it would leave her looking like antennae or a horn was growing out the back of her head. Not to mention leading lines drawing the eye away from her face.

  23. GRR says:

    Bear in mind the Evening Standard is one of the free newspapers they give out on the tube (subway). It is owned, edited and financed by a notorious Russian oligarch who basically runs it just to schmooze and get close to celebs. No one considers it a real publication and it has a very dodgy reputation here. Totally obsessed with celebrity and nepotism. It’s genuinely beyond a joke.

  24. slowsnow says:

    She sounds like a pill (she stood up the journalist who flew to LA to interview her) but I find erasing hair a very disrespectful thing to do too. If I had a hairdo and they erased part of it, I’d be fuming.
    *Sigh* I love her style and effortless chic. People are saying she rips other artists off and maybe she does to some extent I dunno, but it’s not possible to steal everything. She knows what suits her, picks incredible clothes that go so well with her body type and her hair is always amazing.

  25. Jenna says:

    She has a lot of anger issues for someone coming from a place of pure privilege. In fact, does she even realize most women (of colour) wish they could be in her position. I guess I’m glad she speaks up for herself (us). But sometimes I want to tell her sit down.

    The photo looks a million times better with the braid. Kind of lame to cut it out. Sure brings a lot of attention to Solange. Again.

  26. Unicorn_Realist says:

    The hairstyle was too high for a cover photo. They should have did the full length photo inside the magazine and then did upclose fashion shot on the cover and then tell her what to expect. She got paid to do the shoot so at the end of the day its a draw. All this outrage. Models typically do not come with demands. Photographers etc have creative license. She can sit down. By the way, I am a American Black Model. Not like it needs a qualifyer but for underatanding. I understand her point however.. it rings like extra outrage. Not everything is racial. Not everything is discrimination.

  27. Erica_V says:

    I don’t think they should’ve photoshopped it out without telling her what they were doing & I also don’t think she should’ve blown off an interview someone spent 8 hours traveling to you to do.

    I’ve never heard of this magazine is it British?

    • Dorothy K Zbornak says:

      Evening Standard is a British newspaper.

    • Meggles says:

      It’s part of the free local newspaper they give out on the underground (like Metro New York and amNY). On Fridays the newspaper comes with a little 20-page magazine supplement which is mostly fashion and society stuff. It’s not a real magazine and as pointed out above ES has extremely dodgy credentials and has been linked with corruption scandals. Everyone in London reads it because it’s free and you can’t get on the tube without having to move 5 million copies out of the way, but a lot of people really hate it.

      Their current editor is a Tory MP and former Chancellor of the Exchequer (Brit version of Secretary of the Treasury), and one of the most hated men in Britain; he got fired right after the Brexit result and a few months later the Russian billionaire who owns the ES conveniently hired him as editor despite him having zero journalism experience and a self-evident political bias, plus it breaks ministerial conflict of interest rules for someone to be an MP and a newspaper editor at the same time. After he landed the job news came out that while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer he’d donated millions of pounds of public money to the ES’s various “charitable campaigns”, that he’d pushed through tax legislation giving breaks to wealthy non-dom foreigners owning British businesses (like I don’t know NEWSPAPER OWNING RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRES) and in return the ES had openly campaigned for him and for the Tories.

      • Kayleigh says:

        It sounds like the other side of the pond is having a circus in their country, too.

        Thanks for breaking that down so well!

    • Erica_V says:

      Thank you all for the explanation!

      Sounds like she should’ve skipped this interview and article entirely.

  28. Annetommy says:

    Frankly I can’t imagine many mags wanting her on their cover if it wasn’t for her sister. She sounds somewhat precious.

  29. Lea Ann Macrery says:

    They shouldnt have pbotoshopped it without telling her. She obviously did the hairstyle for a reason. Everyone’s all ” I can see why they photoshopped it out”. Thats not the point. Also, yeah representation is bloody important. I don’t care how “precious” she sounds, it is always wonderful to see a strong woman of color being recognized and celebrated. So what if she is more “privileged”… You are all missing the point. Anyway, carry on with your opinions , which you are entitled to.

    • Julianna says:

      She had the braids done for her tour, not this cover. She cared about this interview so little she stood the interviewer up.

      Also magazines regularly make changes like this. If she didn’t want to be photoshopped, she needed to tell them that. Her face has also been ‘shopped in these pictures to be more symmetrical, but she hasn’t mentioned any problems with that, so presumably she’s fine with certain photoshopping.

  30. Harryg says:

    She should thank them!

  31. sunshine gold says:

    Eh who cares. Much ado about nothing.