Shea Moisture: They’re Not Tone Deaf, They’re Assholes, Pt 2

Shea Moisture put out an ad this week called Hair Hate and then sat back and enjoyed their own Pepsi moment. ┬áHere’s the ad below:

For a company that is built by, for and literally┬áon black women, expanding their┬ácustomer base by equating the hair challenges of naturals with the bad hair days of gingers and blondes wasn’t an overreach, it was a betrayal. ┬á Shortly after Shea Moisture’s dragging began, so did the comparisons┬áto the Pepsi ad. ┬áBoth seemed tone deaf, trivializing important aspect of black culture to sell product. ┬áBut I said it about Pepsi and now I’ll say it about Shea Moisture–they’re not tone deaf, they’re assholes; they’re not silly, they’re sell outs.

Shea Moisture’s built its brand on black women and their┬áhard earned cash. ┬áEven the label tells the homey story of the brand’s founder’s grandmother Sofi Tucker selling product in Sierra Leon. ┬áLast year the brand shouted its allegiance┬áto ethnic hair by proudly proclaiming it was going to desegregate the beauty isle–the implication being that Shea Moisture’s move to shelf space in the non-ethinc hair care section (called the regular hair section by most people) was about making hair care inclusive of black beauty, not leaving it behind. This ad clearly positions Shea Moisture as here for black women.┬áTurns outs they were just getting ready to sell out in the rush to gentrify haircare┬áand expand their own customer base and bottom line.

This is not a tone deaf company. ┬áThis is a company that has carefully–and with great success–made it big by catering to black women. ┬áLooking back,┬áit seems the brand, like an NBA player, wasn’t trying to rock with the sisters once it started making it big time (please don’t┬áwrite me letters, my woke NBA brothers). ┬áThe move to the regular hair isle is now followed up with an ad that is shifting the brand to one that serves “regular hair” ┬áThe new ad is the shampoo equivalent of all hair matters, compete with┬áBecky with the good hair. (Did they not listen to Lemonade?!)

Hair is an important marker of identity, especially for women, and especially for black women. ┬áThe natural hair movement has grown along with the movement for black lives. ┬áLike the rallying cry,┬á‘Black is Beautiful’ in the 70’s, the natural hair movement cannot be separated from the politics and social change of our time.

Shea Moisture seeks to equate the hate of different kinds of hair without acknowledging that some hair hate comes with real consequences. ┬áThe hate towards natural hair in schools, business, and social situations is about more than hair, it is reinforcing white supremacy. ┬áTo act like hair hate is about hair and not hate┬ámeans that Shea Moisture just┬ádoesn’t understand us anymore. ┬áMaybe they never really loved us, they just loved our hair style. ┬áSomething tells me they’re about to find out if Becky with the good hair can┬álove them like we did.