I will make this short and sweet because honestly it is not a complicated concept.
The Shea Moisture company used a light skinned woman with wavy long curls and two white women a red head and a blonde to advertise their ethnic hair care products in a recent ad.
People are angry. But Why?
People are angry because one, this is a product with a predominant base of Black women buyers. Apart from any ethical infractions, it was just a plain bad business move to spit in the face of their fan base and advertise to people in the majority population for money’s sake. They are basically sell outs.
The hard cold truth is that most businesses are only out to make money. When lye and perms were poppin, people sold them, now that natural hair is poppin, people sell them to whomever and whoever.
I am not against White women, or mixed women, or women of any other race or ethnicity using ethnic hair care products if it works for them but I have to say, I was terribly confused when I saw the commercial.
For the record of all the White people I have been exposed to I know not one who even knew that these products existed let alone used them in their own hair.
Plus I have spoken with White people about hair differences, and more often than not, they don’t need to moisturize nearly as often as Black people do. Their scalp creates natural oils which is why they have to frequently wash their hair.
So I am terribly baffled as to why they thought this was a great PR choice to have White women in their commercial.
I was also terribly offended that once again the only acceptable “Black” to represent is a light skinned one with long wavy curly hair.
There is a scale from straight to curly with letters and numbers. I am a 4B. I am about two steps away from the kinkiest level. My hair is kinky but very soft, not that coarse.
In recent years, my hair texture has changed to a more wavy lose curl, naturally.
It has people questioning my ethnicity. Ugh. Again. Ugh.
The terms Black Hair, curly, and kinky are all subjective because different people have different definitions of how they view those three, as well as where wavy begins and ends, as well as curly and kinky.
I can’t tell you how many times I would argue with my White colleagues about the struggles of having kinky hair and they would soon argue back but my hair gets tangled and it hurts to comb out too!
That’s *clap* not *clap* the *clap* same *clap* circumstance *clap*!
If your hair doesn’t break teeth in combs, if you cannot stick a pencil in your hair and shake your head and hang upside down without it falling out, if you can’t put coins in your hair and carry a wallet’s worth of change without it falling out you do not have kinks and coils like mine.
I can do ALL of those things with my hair. You do not know true pain if you have not experienced the brutal raking through the jungle that is kinky coils.
So to that the commercial is really spitting in the faces of the girls who endure that, have earned their stripes, use these products only to see themselves NOT represented but replaced by people who have no idea what that feels like.
Not only that it erases darker skinned complexions as well as emphasizes to push to embrace euro-centric standards within the Natural hair community. Everyone’s curls are not flowing, glossy, long tresses. Some people’s hair (like mine for example) grows up and out. My hair doesn’t grow down out of my head at all. If I grow my afro it will simply grow like tree branches.
It took me awhile to embrace that and I remember the heat that I received when I did the big chop and rocked my T.W.A. teeny weeny afro.
The strength and courage it took to spit in the faces of self hating and insecure people who wanted to change me was not easy. One of my own family members even told me, never ever cut your hair again!
I was admonished for cutting my hair and I was told that there were women who really wanted long hair but didn’t have it and here I had “long” hair (to my shoulders) and I had chopped it like it was some crime against humanity.
Short hair is associated with being butch or a lesbian or a woman who either doesn’t care about attracting men, or is super edgy and aggressive, or an intense man hating feminist, or someone in mourning who has given up on life and their looks.
All of this over a style of hair.
The greatest compliment I ever received when my hair was shaved was when I went to the Dominican Republic and a Haitian guy said to me in front of a group of girls “Tu eres la mas bella de todas las mujeres.” “You are the most beautiful of all the women.” He said this right in front of them, and I could not believe how huge a compliment it was. I’m sure it hurt their egos and they did not really hang out with me afterwards, but it meant the world to me to be told that with my shaved head, to be reminded that I was still beautiful and still a woman.
Sometimes I pretend not to care about that stuff but I do. I like to be told that I am beautiful because I don’t always feel that way for various reasons.
I remember when I first cut my hair and my father took me to Home Depot on purpose. He wanted to teach me a lesson. I walked around and he said turn around and look at the men looking at you. All eyes were on me.
He said look, it makes no difference. Legitimately, most of what men care about it if a girl has a vagina, the rest really isn’t that big a deal too us. Women are always showing off for other women. Men don’t care that much about makeup or hair or that other crap.
And while that may be partially true, society tells them that they ought to care about it and that it says something about them to date women who look alternative, like they are secretly gay or something.
I had a boyfriend who was a total jerk and freaked out when I cut my hair. Mind you, I met him with my TWA but I had shaved it lower to the scalp. He practically cried and acted like I had castrated myself and cut off my breasts. He said that I looked like a man and because people already said that we looked alike that people would mistake me for being his brother now.
Just Wow. So incredibly rude!
At the time I was an insecure dormat so I just tried to bury my internal wounds.
Many Black girls can relate to stories of shame, embarrassment, harassment, confusion, doubt, regret, peer-pressure and shaming of their hair choices no matter what they were.
This commercial is a slap in the face to our natural hair journeys and struggles.
But at the end of the day, companies are there to make money. If perms sell, they will sell the creamy crack, if natural hair care products sell, they will sell the kinky, coily cream, but I can assure you that most, do not care about our feelings.
They know how many hair products and average Black girl has and how much an average Black girl will spend to attain them in the process of trying to figure out what works through experimentation.
Because unlike White women we don’t have a myriad of products to choose from. Unlike White women we don’t have various instructions on how to care for our hair. Thanks to Youtube we have resources to figure it out.
I have no Shea Moisture products so I have nothing to throw out. I am a Cantu girl myself, and I don’t know if Cantu is free of scandal. What I do know is no matter what product I use, due to capitalism, these companies are out to make money regardless of our feelings and this was their attempt to expand their market.
They devalued their Black Woman audience and underestimated our power and now they will suffer financially for it. Know thine audience people! Do NOT spit in their faces!
This is one of the most important rules of business 101!
And to those who are making this out to be some Angry Black Woman attack on WOC and light skins and wavy textured people.
As a light skinned person myself, I am sick of seeing the only Black Women represented, as acceptable light skinned mixed looking women.
Display a darker brown woman with tight short kinky coils for God’s sake!
#SheaMoisture You done f**ked up!