The Black Girl Magic Response Cancelled This Shea Moisture Ad

Shea Moisture can I talk to you, about you, with you for a minute? Either way, it’s happening.

Shea Moisture is a staple, I repeat a staple hair-care brand among Black women, particularly with natural hair. If you were to search “shea moisture review” on Youtube over 240,000 results will appear. In other words, you can’t be natural and have never heard of a Shea Moisture product at least once, once.

This past weekend I bought the restorative conditioner (the brown label). I felt my hair growth plateaued, so, new products and a regimen were much needed. I used the conditioner as a pre-poo and the results left me speechless. My hair felt so soft the conditioner instantly became a fav.

Then this commercial happened.


In 24 hours, Shea Moisture went from waking me up to putting my back to sleep. Let me explain.

Black women–Black dollars–are the BACKBONE to this company’s success. Black women are the majority customers, brand ambassadors, and most importantly, the inspiration behind the entire line. Now I understand Shea Moisture wants to expand their reach, understandable. But what’s not understandable is masking the women who have made Shea Moisture what it is today. You don’t bite the hands that have fed you.

Let me be very clear: someone ridiculed for having red hair color is incomparable to someone ridiculed for having a completely different grade of hair. It shouldn’t even be in the same train of thought. And forcing these two opposites to attract women together because of experienced “hair hate” and “hair shaming” is blatant ignorance and you should know better. You are better than that Shea Moisture. Or are you?

The exact reason of Shea Moisture’s creation was to give women whose hair texture plays the antagonist in the protagonist’s story of European Beauty: Good Versus Bad some hope. So I ask again, what is wrong with a hair-care line created, designed, and packaged for Black women and men. Is it that we no longer make you happy? Is it not enough that your products have found a home in our bins and cabinets, on our shelves or bathroom sinks? Is it not enough Shea Moisture that your reputation as the holy grail of natural hair care lines rests on the nontraditional—yet free—marketing method word-of-mouth? Is it not enough that the Black dollars, which have lined the company’s pockets, now need to be white? Shea Moisture, I ask you all this to find the point in your new “Break free from hair hate” commercial.

Granted there is an ugly stigma associated with people who have red hair, from the moniker “ginger(s)” to the idiom “red-headed stepchild”. I get it: everyone can’t be a blonde. It’s a hard life to live. But you know what’s a bit harder? Living in a society where your natural hair—in all of its kinkified glory—is called “nappy” all the damn time. 

You see, the Black woman in your commercial—the only woman of color—is gorgeous, but her hair represents a small fraction of hair types within our race; she looks a strong 3A. She also looks biracial, which actually has a lot more meaning in the outrage than just hating to be hating. I don’t want to take away value from the model woman’s story of being teased as a child for her hair, finding paper balls tangled in her hair, and coming to accept the beauty of her hair. However, I do wonder what was the demographic of her grade school classroom.

Maybe I’m going a little too deep or maybe your marketing and creative team didn’t go deep enough. Ask Pepsi. All thanks to terrible, terrible, terrible marketing, which all could have been avoided if someone spoke up to say, “This may not be received well.” Now here you are doing damage control, scrambling to keep the customers who were only featured in the one-minute commercial at the end. I’m positive that pinned tweet was pinned April 24, 2017, and not on the originally tweeted date September 14, 2017.

Take a look around Shea, can I call you Shea? Hair care lines that once excluded US are now including US. Where do you think TRESemme’s “reverse system” two-step process of condition first then shampoo later came from? When were Argan oil, coconut oil, castor oil, almond oil, etc. ever the main ingredient and on the front of the bottle with Dove, Pantene, Suave, and L’Oreal? Oils are in, fruits are out. What group do you think influenced those brands to incorporate ingredients that are principal nutrients for natural hair growth? Well if you’re thinking it’s the three women who wondered what to do with their already #straighthair #easytomaintainhair #washeverydayhair you are sadly mistaken, misguided and misinformed.

Shea, I don’t want to see you go from the front of the shelf to the back. I don’t want to see you go from retail end-cap display to clearance cart (you know the cart I’m talking about). I don’t want to see your lack of diversity in ads result in your demise. But I do want to see some loyalty. Or would you prefer to see your name on the list of brands that lost their identity?

Now before you think Black women are just being selfish and nagging to nag, I leave you with this: hair-straightener formulas (relaxers) were created to approve our appearance; natural hair care products were created for US to accept our appearance.