Tone deaf commercials seem to be the new black these days. First, we had Pepsi who provided us with a laughable slap in the face to the Black Lives Matter protests. Now we have Shea moisture. As a black woman with natural hair, the Shea Moisture blow was way more disrespectful than Pepsi.
I don’t expect anything from Pepsi. Pepsi has never looked at me and created a drink catering specifically to my experiences or daily struggles. Pepsi wasn’t founded by someone that looks like me. And to be honest, I don’t even like Pepsi. I barely drink soda.
However, I LOVE Shea moisture. The Raw Shea Butter conditioner is my staple when wearing my natural hair out, the Superfruit Complex 10-in-1 hair masque is my go-to for deep conditioning, and I just started using the Jamaican Black Castor Oil Grow & Restore Conditioner and Leave-In Conditioner. I’ve even dabbled in their body wash and lotion lines. So when I heard the uproar about their newest commercial, the first thing that came out my mouth was literally “Damn!”
The commercial definitely missed the mark when it attempted to illustrate “Hair Hate” by featuring two white women and an African-American women with hair that we’ve seen featured in hair commercials since the dawn of advertising. Also, after listening to this week’s episode of The Read, I identify with what Chrissle was arguing when she said that Black women’s hair struggle is far different from women of other races.
Black hair has never been embraced by mainstream retailers, as we quickly learned when we needed products specifically for us. Drugstores had slivers of hair aisles sectioned off with Just For Me and products containing chemicals we would barely even use to clean. Which is why a line like Shea Moisture was so crucial.
The first time I picked up a Shea Moisture shampoo bottle at Target, I remember reading the back of the bottle which stated the founders started the company after their grandmother sold shea butter products throughout Sierra Leone. No more Pantene Curly Hair shampoo for me! I was hype! And, when the products actually worked you couldn’t tell me nothing!
Which is what brings me to my current dilemma. When I show up to Marshall’s to purchase my half off Shea Moisture products, should I wear a hoodie and sunglasses or will we all be on the same page about this?
I KNOW, the commercial was in poor taste. However, the company did release a statement and at the end of the day, the brand was founded with Black women in mind and they continue to produce products that create solutions for Black women that most brands would never contemplate.
In today’s PC culture, I agree organizations should be held accountable for their lack of representation and inclusion. After visiting Shea Moistures’s website, I believe the company is attempting to do so. By sourcing their products from Africa, the beauty brand is attempting to provide opportunities to African women who harvest shea nuts and produce the miracle that is shea butter. Therefore, where do we draw the line between enforcing accountability and accepting the apology?
With all that being said, I will be deeply contemplating sprinting to the sale aisle to stock up on Coconut Hibiscus leave-in conditioner or switching to a new product.