If you didn’t know, April 24th Shea Moisture played themselves by releasing an advertisement featuring white women and one black woman with a loose curl pattern. You may be asking yourself, what’s the problem? They included a black woman so why does her curl pattern matter? Well, let’s discuss.
Hair within the black community has always carried a stigma, and the kinkier hair always got the most negativity. Black hair has been deemed unkempt, unprofessional, & unacceptable by mainstream society, even the act of wearing your hair as it grows from your head is a rebellious act for black women. Even within our community years of oppression and socialization has led to a hair hierarchy where the looser curl patterns are considered “good hair” and everything else is considered bad, even I used to fall into this trap before I began to reeducate myself.
So, back to the Shea Moisture ad, what exactly went wrong? Well, multiple things actually. The issue isn’t with the presence of white women as much as it is with the use of this concept of “hair hate” by women who fit into the acceptable American framework of beauty, red hair isn’t the same as women being told the hair growing out of their scalp will keep them from obtaining a job. Additionally, the black woman featured in the commercial is not the problem either, but the absence of black women who have kinkiest, less socially acceptable hair types, especially because Shea Moisture is a brand that has always been for black women and who the products were created for. By excluding those 4 hair types from their advertisement Shea Moisture has both erased and alienated the women who have gotten their products where they are and have been loyal supporters since their inception. This mistake is honestly just another symbol of how diverse thinking is needed within the advertising industry, coming on the heels of that disastrous Pepsi commercial. But not only is this a PR disaster for a brand who has products I love, but a slap in the face to the black women who made Shea Moisture the successful hair company it has become.
If you want to check out the ad: