Natural hair care line Shea Moisture has been a staple for many black women throughout the years. But last Thursday, a new video from the company surfaced, which had many wondering who exactly their target audience really is.
"Break free from hair HATE," the beauty retailer captioned the ad on their Facebook page. "See how these women have finally learned to embrace hair LOVE."
And while the cover image is a black woman with loose curls, the ad featured mostly white women with wavy or bone straight hair — which left people pissed.
"First of all, this video is trash af," a woman declared in the comments. "Second of all, you are gonna learn the power of the black woman dollar today. Yes tf you are. Y'all played yourselves!! Good luck recovering from this fukkery!"
"Everybody gets love but black women! Never buying this trash again," someone else added.
But black women alone weren't alone in their views.
White women chimed in as well and seemed to be be equally as confused about the concept.
"I'm a white woman. I've been using your product and didn't need another white woman in a commercial to use it," one person noted. "I mean, sure, have a token white if you want but where the hell are the black women?!?! One light skinned woman is not representing your clientele. I'm pissed off and white, I can't imagine what my dark skinned sisters are feeling."
The conversation even moved to Twitter where users started the #SheaMoistureIsOverParty hashtag.
— Goddess of Petty (@AR_Goddess) April 24, 2017
— GIA 🥀 (@grrreezy) April 24, 2017
BOOYYY WHAT!! shea moisture out here wilding thinking white people experience hair hate. What is that? Cancelled. #SheaMoistureisOverParty
— 🍯🐝 (@crybabyjujube) April 24, 2017
And while from the outside looking in, some may be confused as to why black women are up in arms over the ad — it's actually a huge deal.
The vast majority of mainstream hair care lines don't offer products that are specifically made for kinky hair, making it impossible for some women to cater to their locks. And even when stores do carry them, they often separate them from the shampoos and conditioners that were manufactured for what some brands call "normal" hair.
Aside from that, many women have a sense of anxiety when it comes to embracing their natural curls. This comes as a result of years of low visibility for their hair types in the mainstream media and being told negative things about their kinks, in comparison to straight, fine hair, from people within their own communities.
"[We need to] stop referring to [our hair] as nappy, bad and all of the other derogatory words we use when we are referring to our natural hair," celebrity hairstylist Aisha Ebony shared with HuffPost Canada in March. "We embed these things into our psyche and when we finally see our hair in true form we have already started hating it because we’ve told ourselves for so long that it is undesirable."
"When we finally see our hair in true form we have already started hating it because we’ve told ourselves for so long that it is undesirable." —hairstylist Aisha Ebony
Shea Moisture's erasure of black women in the ad can be taken as a serious slap in the face. especially since the brand was founded by Sofi Tucker, a dark-skinned woman from Sierra Leone in 1912, according to the company's website.
But it looks like Shea realizes they made a huge mistake and on Monday claimed they're pulling the campaign.
"Wow, okay – so guys, listen, we really f-ed this one up," Shea Moisture shared via Facebook. "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," they added. "So, the feedback we are seeing here brings to light a very important point."
The apology continued:
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…
But this isn't the first time Shea Moisture has come under fire for their ads. Back in 2015, the company got some serious backlash after they featured white babies, instead of black ones, to promote their children's product line.
HuffPost Canada reached out to Shea Moisture for comment, but the company did not respond at the time of publishing.