A newly released ad campaign from Shea Moisture centering around embracing one’s hair has received a very negative reception from its fan base. The reason being: in an ad about embracing hair texture from a company that has typically been making products to fit the underserved needs of Black Women, the commercial featured three white women with bone straight hair and one black woman with loose curls. People are not happy.

An overreaction?

Many might say that this is an overreaction. After all, why shouldn’t Shea Moisture expand its fan base? In a year that seems to have been full of mishaps by companies and brands, one of the reasons is simple.

While the idea may be innocent, the execution was clunky and tone deaf. Here’s why:

For one thing, the ad featured women talking about hating their hair texture and trying to embrace it. While it’s true that woman of all hair types (straight, wavy, curly, kinky) can feel negative about their own hair type at times, it’s a recognizable fact that black women with kinky or “nappy” hair have been ostracized for their hair texture for decades. Their hair is not the beauty standard, and it’s never been seen as the “norm.” So for a natural hair company such as Shea Moisture to effectively erase that group of women from a commercial talking about embracing hair texture is sadly ironic.

There’s a second reason why this was a troubling move on their part.

The Natural Hair Movement, a movement that has encouraged black women to accept and embrace their natural, tightly coiled hair texture, has embraced the few brands that cater to natural hair. Shea Moisture is one of those few brands, others including Cantu, Carol’s Daughter, and Twisted Sista. The fact that Shea Moisture is now deciding to expand to include other hair types feels like a betrayal to many.

There’s clearly no shortage of hair products for people with straighter hair textures to use. For a natural hair company, whose fan base is made up of primarily black woman, to decide to make that shift seems a lot like gentrification. In short, it feels like a sellout.

Their response

Shea Moisture quickly went to social media, where the backlash originated, to clean up its mess.

The company promised to remove the ad saying, “Please know that our intention was not to disrespect our community, and as such, we are pulling this piece immediately because it does not represent what we intended to communicate. We are keenly aware of the journey that WOC face…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.

**Kathleen Morris is a writer for Blasting News. You can follow her on Twitter: @kat_morris101**

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