The world of beauty is a big place — globally, the beauty industry is worth $400 billion dollars, and back in 2016 there were 16,710 day spas in the U.S. alone. However, despite being a massive worldwide industry, many understand that not every demographic has been given a fair representation.
Take Shea Moisture, for example.
Back in April 2016, Shea Moisture released their #BreakTheWalls campaign with the goal of making their beauty product marketing more inclusive. The brand, which is an African American and family-owned company that primarily targets women of color, focused a lot of its marketing efforts on shining a light on the lack of diversity in the beauty aisle. These commercials went over well among socially conscious consumers, but the brand recently launched an ad that caused quite the stir.
That’s because one of the brand’s new commercials features mostly white women with little focus on Black women, the brand’s original customer demographic.
The new commercial shows several white women talking about their “hair hate” issues: A blonde expressing how she never knew how to style her hair and a redhead who shared why shame led her to dye her hair.
Almost immediately, Shea Moisture fans took to social media to declare their disappointment in the brand. Many viewers were shocked to see the same brand that created #BreakTheWalls was now leaving out the women they market to almost exclusively. Critics complained that the brand was playing into the same old beauty brand standards that routinely leave ethnic hair out of the equation.
Fans were also upset that Shea Moisture presented a tone-deaf story about “hair hate”, given that Black women largely face discrimination in the workplace, from society at large and even in their own communities, when they choose to wear they hair in its natural state, not a challenge that is comparable with indecision about styling or being teased about color.
CNN Money reports that soon after the release of the commercial, Shea Moisture pulled the plug on the new ad campaign and released an apology on their Facebook page.
“We really f-ed this one up,” Shea Moisture explained in their statement. “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.”
Additionally, Richelieu Dennis, the founder and CEO of Shea Moisture, explained to CNN that the brand’s main focus is still women of color, and he apologized for any offense caused by the controversial advertisement.
However, Dennis did explain that Shea Moisture is branching out to offer products to women with every type of hair, so some of their marketing efforts will be changing. Until then, Dennis promised that Shea Moisture remains committed to addressing the “challenges that women have and continue to have with the societal norms of beauty.”