SheaMoisture is arguably the biggest brand that caters to naturally kinky, coily, and curly hair. In an attempt to broaden their target audience and show diversity, they released an ad featuring four women; three of them were white and one woman was racially ambiguous, their attempt at diversifying the group.
The ad talked about “hair hate” and how we should all love our hair because everyone’s hair is beautiful, and with SheaMoisture products, the true beauty of our hair will shine through. Immediately after this ad was released, they received a tremendous amount of outrage from the black community. People felt that the ad proved that the brand was being whitewashed and gentrified.
“I never liked my red hair, so I dyed it blonde. I use Shea Moisture now for no reason in particular, thanks for listening, drink Pepsi.”
— Writey McScriberson (@afroSHIRL) April 24, 2017
Now SheaMoisture, let me talk to you for a second. I’m all for expanding your brand and providing products for all hair types, but completely ignoring your main consumer base in the name of expansion is unacceptable. If anything, this commercial was contradictory to your overall point. If all hair is beautiful, then why wouldn’t you include representations of all hair types in the ad instead of targeting white women specifically?
With that being said, I do not think that the entire company is being whitewashed or gentrified. I just believe that their PR team got greedy. They wanted to expand their target audience and wanted to do it in a quick and upfront way. Sure, this ad may have received the attention of some women who did not know that SheaMoisture caters to all hair types, but in the process they lost the respect of their main consumer base.
It has always been hard for women with ethnic hair to find products that work on our kinks, curls, and coils. Most hair brands do not have a curly haired line, and when they do, it is geared towards only the loosest of curl patterns. With the majority of hair brands turning a blind eye to an entire market of consumers, when SheaMoisture came along, the natural hair community clung to the brand for dear life, supporting every line that they introduced. This brand became as big as it is today because of our community lifting it up every step of the way. SheaMoisture was the brand that we ran to because we were being excluded from every other brand, and now this ad is making it look like they are doing the same thing as every other one.
Personally, I feel like they should have pulled a Michael Jackson. Follow me here, I’ll make sense in a second. In his video “Black Or White,” he morphed together a diverse group of people and proclaimed “it don’t matter if you’re black or white!”
SheaMoisture could’ve done the same thing by morphing different women with different hair types, races, and walks of life. They could have proclaimed, “It doesn’t matter what your hair looks like, we see you, and you’re beautiful.” Instead, their ad screamed “We’re desperate to increase our margins in your demographic; check us out white ladies!”
SheaMoisture has since released an apology and pulled the ad off the air. However, it should have never made it that far. It is sad that nobody from the company saw that ad and said, “wait, this might anger or offend people.” They were too worried about crossing over into the realm of mainstream hair products to notice that anything was wrong. And that to me, was the most offensive part of this situation.
Wow, okay – so guys, listen, we really f-ed this one up. Please know that our intention was not – and would never be –…
Do better, Shea Moisture. Do better.