Why People Are Pissed at Shea Moisture Right Now
Although Pepsi and United Airlines messed up pretty bad, Shea Moisture is the latest to be added to the most hated companies right now.
Yesterday, Shea Moisture dropped a 60-second social media ad featuring women talking about not being accepted because of their natural hair. The problem: this historically black brand included blonde and red-haired white women talking about their hair struggles. In fact, only one of the three women featured in the ad is black.
This is an issue because Shea Moisture is one of the few brands that has been known to cater more to black women than white women. Customers feel protective over Shea Moisture, so many felt the inclusion of more white women than black women in this ad was a slap in the face.
The company was founded in Harlem, NY, in 1991 by Liberians Nyema Tubman, Richelieu Dennis and his mother Mary Dennis. The company has historically targeted and catered to black women in hair, skin and beauty. The company was inspired by Dennis’ grandmother who sold Shea Butter in a village in Sierra Leone in 1912.
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…
For years, Shea Moisture has been the go-to products for women of color with thick and coarse hair who have had difficulty finding natural hair care products to help make their hair healthy. For the past few months, Shea Moisture has been making huge changes which has been showing in their marketing. Their ads and content have recently been including non-black women in their promotions.
According to social media, many black women have been feeling that the company is pushing them to the side and trying to market all women instead of women of color who have spent millions into the company making it what it is today.
SheaMoisture is CANCELLED pic.twitter.com/T4Dru1JgAq
— NANA JIBRIL 🌙🏳️🌈 (@girlswithtoys) April 24, 2017
Immediately, social media went crazy. Many black women, including myself, voiced dissatisfaction with the ads mainly because black and white women just don’t face the same struggles when it comes to beauty standards.
Customers are unhappy with the brand’s comparison of embracing red hair to embracing natural black texture. Black women are discriminated against for wearing their natural hair or being told in their workplaces that they can’t wear dreads or an afro because it’s not appealing. Shea Moisture has been known to be for black women and having two completely different struggles marketed as similar makes black women feel like we weren’t enough, like the brand doesn’t care about us anymore.
Black women built SheaMoisture. And not the “I was teased for having good hair” Black women. Black women will take it right on down too.
— Kimberly N. Foster (@KimberlyNFoster) April 24, 2017
— Kimberly N. Foster (@KimberlyNFoster) April 24, 2017
But even with their new marketing, it seems as if the company is also starting to visually exclude the 4c hair type. Not all black natural-haired women have bouncy 2 or 3c curls. Here’s what one Facebook commenter said:
“Thanks for excluding 4c hair from your commercial, it’s nice to know that even though I have been using your products the majority of my life. You talk about inclusion but ignore your majority customer base.I won’t be using your skin care, hair care, or makeup line since you don’t think people who look like me and have hair like me shouldn’t be featured in your commercials.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying white women deal with self-confidence issues stemming from damn near impossible beauty standards, but the two issues aren’t equal and shouldn’t be treated as such; especially coming from a company that was founded by and for black women. This is why we are all pissed off.
But Shea Moisture did issue an apology and has spoken out about their commitment to black women, so I can cease the drag, for now. Do better, Shea Moisture.