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The Daily Illini

SheaMoisture underestimates the Black woman’s dollar

Tatiana Rodriguez, Columnist

Major companies have been missing their mark lately when it comes to connecting with Black consumers. First it was Pepsi with their controversial Kendall Jenner advertisement and now it’s SheaMoisture, a hair product company that caters to natural hair types.

SheaMoisture’s latest commercial, which has just been pulled for the amount of backlash it received, featured women talking about the struggles that they’ve endured due to their “difficult” hair type and how SheaMoisture products will help to end “hair hate.”

While this would normally be something positive, the commercial only featured one black woman with a loose curl pattern speaking alongside four white women who had virtually no curl pattern.

While it’s less surprising that Pepsi would mess up since they don’t necessarily target Black consumers, SheaMoisture has no excuse since their entire business was built by and maintained by the Black woman with 3 and 4 hair types.

Hair and haircare is such an integral part of Black women’s identity and culture that they spend “an estimated $7.5 billion annually on beauty products,” according to Refinery 29’s Taylor Bryant.

SheaMoisture products have been primarily used and funded by the Black woman’s dollar. For that, it is Black women who should have been mainly featured in the video.

While it’s OK if SheaMoisture wants to expand their range of products, it’s disappointing that they aren’t respecting and representing their main consumers — especially when white women have so many hair brands to choose from.

The message, “Break free from hair hate,” flashed on the screen of the video, insinuating that the women in the video have faced some level of “hate” for their hair types.

But straight and wavy hair have always been hailed as a standard of beauty. There’s no way that the white woman who said she was bullied for her naturally red hair in the video has ever or will ever experience the amount of ridicule that Black women have felt at some point in their lives just for having hair.

SheaMoisture released a statement on their Facebook page, apologizing for the commercial and assuring consumers that they do value their loyal customers.

In the apology, though, the brand said that they “are keenly aware of the journey that WOC (women of color) face,” and will do better to represent their community in the future.

While their decision to pull the commercial and take ownership over their mistakes is admirable, the fact that the brand did not apologize to Black women specifically is frustrating.

It was not WOC who have built SheaMoisture — it was Black women. There are many WOC who have straight and wavy hair and face racism and discrimination, but not for their hair. It is not them who have been using black African soap, shea butter and castor oil for years — it’s been Black women with 3 and 4 hair types.

An overwhelming amount of Black women have expressed their distaste with SheaMoisture, even vowing to boycott the brand. While SheaMoisture might be able to gain back some of the customers that they’ve lost, they’re going to have a difficult time doing so since the drug-store brand is already so expensive on top of being disrespectful.
SheaMoisture will feel the power of the Black woman’s dollar, which will probably be going  toward natural hair brands that actually value their customers such as Cantu, Carol’s Daughter and As I Am.

Tatiana is a freshman in Media.

tlr2@dailyillini.com

1 Comment

  • There’s nothing wrong with the Pepsi advertisement.