Where do we begin?
I guess in the middle because we don’t have time for in depth history lessons. Yesterday, SheaMoisture dropped an ad that had everyone talking. Black women were outraged. I will say that not all women felt this way.
The layers and depth of this discussion are too much to cover in one blog post. But, let me say this: this country has a history of erasing Black women and if you don’t understand what that means you are either 1. not a Black woman or b. have not been taught this history because…see erasure.
For years, SheaMoisture has been a brand focused solely on Black hair. SheaMoisture also picked up an investor in 2015. We cheered it on because hey, growth for a Black business, right?
Personally, I started feeling like it was no longer “my” brand when I attended conferences and noticed there were no products for curly hair. I legit chucked it up to “they’re diversifying their brand and bringing something new to the table” which is always a good thing. I’m not knocking their hustle and was really trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.
The problem with the ad is that it showcases 2 white women and a woman of color with curly hair. That’s it. They could’ve showcased one woman with tight/kinky curls, no? But wait, there’s more.
The topic? Hair hate. This white woman fixed her face on camera to say she hated being a red head for a long time and decided to go blonde for years. Um…what?!
For women and girls who have experienced threats of expulsions from school, criticism & legal discrimination in the workplace, and more, this ad made no damn sense. Hair hate? How do you even write that out and don’t include our darker 4a/b/c sisters in the mix?
And here’s where the erasure comes in. For years, Black women have been erased in this country. Out of the history books, out of the wins in activism, hell, out of their own humanity. Now, a company that so many Black women have supported over the years appears to be quietly exiting stage left toward their newfound market of white women.
I watched Dr. Joy DeGruy break this topic down in relation to women’s health and breastfeeding (if you don’t follow her, do. And get her books). And I got a chance to see my best friend build her dissertation specifically around the topic of hair in women of African descent. The erasure is real. Dr. Rosado’s research showed that, solely based on hair (style, texture, etc), women would be categorized as more or less educated, making more or less money and even assigned as Christian or non-Christian. Based. On. Hair. Let that sink in.
Fast forward to this ad. I’m not hatin’ on SheaMoisture for trying to get their coins. I just wish that they’d included the people that got them here. Dammit, if we are going to go with this everybody gets love then let’s show it! I mean, it’s great that Becky was hating her red hair and suddenly loves it now that she’s found SheaMoisture BUT, how about you talk to that woman that that was told she wasn’t beautiful because her hair was kinky or nappy or whatever other word was used (greña is the word used in Dominican Republic)? Can you showcase what got us to this point? What built your company up to what it was at the point in which you acquired an investor? Can we?
Even with all the hair love I give my child, I still battle what she sees outchea in these streets. I work hard to make sure she loves her hair and I’m sorry but the “hair struggle” looks different when your hair is out here looking like every damn model on the newsstand.
The erasure is there. Whether intentional or not. I wish that SM had kept it real, put in some of the sistahs that purchased their product all these years and told all of their friends to buy them. The ones that suddenly can’t walk into a SM booth at a conference and find anything for themselves. The ones who bought into the brand with their dollars and loyalty.
And for those that don’t get what the big deal is, I invite you to do a gut check in your own communities and circles as I have no doubt you’ll find the erasure of Black women such commonplace there, it might not even have registered.
For those of you looking to purchase products now that SheaMoisture isn’t enough, I invite you to head on over to my girl Aaronica’s page. She’s put together a nice list of 9 Natural Hair Products to replace the Shea in your shower.
And for the record, yes, SheaMoisture apologized after the backlash but, I don’t think colored girls feel it’s enough.