SheaMoisture ‘f-ed up’ in New Ad Whitewashing Historically Ethnic Hair Products

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SheaMoisture has been the holy grail of hair products for predominately black and multiracial women to embrace and tame their natural hair. The brand has been built upon women who have natural and textured Afro and curly hair, yet this audience has been alienated from their latest advert.

The advert includes two white women and a mixed woman who talk about the struggles that they have faced because of their hair.

It begins with a mixed woman with curly hair recalling how people would make fun of her hair by throwing paper in it, making her hate her hair.

Fair enough, people with curly hair get teased and it can be a struggle to accept when it’s pumped into you that straight silky hair is beautiful, and multiracial women use their products.

But it all goes downhill from there. A blonde woman with straight hair complains that she looks in the mirror and says ‘I don’t know what to do with it’, and a woman with straight ginger hair says ‘I don’t feel like I was supposed to be a red head’.

Although these things may feel like genuine problems for this audience, it trivialises the serious issues that ethnically diverse women face with their hair.

When SheaMoisture’s loyal customers are made up of women who can be sent home from school or work just for wearing their natural hair, being faced with women who perfectly fit the Western beauty standard turns it into a parody.

Not forgetting that it’s not hard to find a wide range of hair products that are catered for straight and wavy hair, but ethnic hair products are confined to an aisle or a shelf at most, that’s if they have any at all. If not we have to seek out specialised shops which can be hard to find.

Customers (now ex-customers) have been vocal about the advert by dragging the brand on Twitter and Facebook.

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To make matters worse, the company praised television personality Tariq Nasheed, for his ‘loyalty and support’ which angered their customers even more as he has made derogatory comments against Black women.

SheaMoisture released this statement about the ad on their social media pages:

“Wow, okay – so guys, listen, we really f-ed this one up. Please know that our intention was not – and would never be – to disrespect our community, and as such, we are pulling this piece immediately because it does not represent what we intended to communicate.

You guys know that we have always stood for inclusion in beauty and have always fought for our community and given them credit for not just building our business but for shifting the beauty landscape. So, the feedback we are seeing here brings to light a very important point.

While this campaign included several different videos showing different ethnicities and hair types to demonstrate the breadth and depth of each individual’s hair journey, we must absolutely ensure moving forward that our community is well-represented in each one so that the women who have led this movement never feel that their hair journey is minimized in any way.

We are keenly aware of the journey that WOC face – and our work will continue to serve as the inspiration for work like the Perception Institute’s Good Hair Study/Implicit Association Test that suggests that a majority of people, regardless of race and gender, hold some bias towards women of color based on their textured or natural hair. So, you’re right. We are different – and we should know better.

Thank you all, as always, for the honest and candid feedback. We hear you. We’re listening. We appreciate you. We count on you. And we’re always here for you. Thank you, #SheaFam, for being there for us, even when we make mistakes. Here’s to growing and building together…”

This apology has not been received well by their disappointed customers, claiming that they still haven’t given WOC credit for making their brand a success.

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Excluding black women from their brand is a big mistake, according Nielsen African-Americans have a buying power of ‘$1 trillion’ and estimated to reach ‘$1.3 trillion’.

The cover photo on the SheaMoisture Facebook page is also drawing controversy as there are large letters covering the faces of the black/multiracial women, contributing to their erasure and making their customers feel unwanted.

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SheaMoisture is tearing their hair out over this PR disaster which is not looking to die down at any time soon, women are even posting pictures of their SheaMoisture products in the bin.

Don’t underestimate the power of the people!

 

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