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SheaMoisture Ad Controversy refers to the backlash against cosmetics company SheaMoisture for a commercial featuring two white women from black consumers who viewed the commercial as a betrayal of the company's longstanding black and African-American consumer base.
SheaMoisture was created in the early 90s and earned a reputation as a brand for black women, as its products were one of the few created specifically for black women's natural, textured hair. On April 24th, 2017, the brand released a minute-long advertisement that featured one black woman and two white women talking about how SheaMoisture helped them embrace their natural hair (shown below).
The advertisement was instantly met with backlash from the black community who felt betrayed that SheaMoisture was seemingly attempting to reach a global market and leave black women behind. SheaMoisture trended on Twitter that day as hundreds of people responded to the controversy. One tweet with the ad saying "SheaMoisture is CANCELLED!" posted by @girlswithtoys has been retweeted over 9,600 times (shown below).
Several prominent media outlets covered the controversy. Both The Cut and Fader ran pieces about the controversy written by black women, who offered the perspective that since society has long deemed natural black hair inferior to white, to have a "black" brand attempt to market to white people felt like a betrayal. Snopes, US Weekly, and more also covered the controversy.
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…