Shea Moisture Ad Yanked After Outrage From Black Women

Shea Moisture canceled its new commercial after intense backlash materialized from black women on social media. The commercial for the hair and skin care company featured one women of color that some online posters deemed "only" biracial, and three white women -- a blonde and two redheads.

The 60-second Shea Moisture ad featured the four women talking about their various hair care woes. The first women shown in the commercial, a young woman of color, said she was teased about her "natural hair" as a child. The white women detailed the problems they each experienced maintaining their respective hairstyles as well. By the end of the ad, the African-American woman and the white women all credited Shea Moisture for helping them to embrace their respective natural hairstyles and for giving them all beautiful hair.

"Break free from hair hate," was the theme of the Shea Moisture ad.

Many outspoken long-time customers took issue with the natural hair problems of black women being compared to the style concerns of the white women featured in the commercial. The hair and skin care company has been accused of gentrifying the problems black women who opt for a natural hair look experience. Ad haters that called for a boycott of Shea Moisture said the ad essentially trivialized the black hair issue by comparing the matter with something they deemed far less substantial, like choosing between red and blonde hair dye.

A significant number of black women in America feel the decision to embrace their natural hair and to wear traditional African hairstyles, such as cornrows, braids, or dreadlocks, causes society to view them in a negative manner, MSN reports. The desire to be viewed as professional and competent in the workplace has prompted many black women to straighten their hair or to purchase weaves to alter their natural look, the same report revealed.

The Shea Moisture company was founded by Liberian refugees Richelieu Dennis, his mother Mary Dennis, and Nyema Tubman. They opened up shop in Harlem in 1991. Shea Moisture remains a black-owned business today.

Shea Moisture was inspired by Sofi Tucker who began selling Shea nuts in Bonthe, Sierra Leone at a village market when she was barely more than a girl in 1912. By the time Tucker was 19 she had become both a widow and a mother of four.

"Sofi Tucker was our Grandmother and Shea Moisture is her legacy," the company website proudly declares.

The Shea Moisture ad was canceled rather quickly after the online backlash began and the company issued a lengthy apology to consumers.

The hair and skin care company stated it understood the struggles Women of color (WOC) face and vowed to continue their work showing respecting for African-American culture and raising awareness about the black community. The apology also noted Shea Moisture was deemed the inspiration for projects like the "Perception Institute's Good Hair Study/Implicit Association Test." The test reportedly found the majority of humans, regardless of either their gender or their race, hold at least some type of bias against black women based solely upon the appearance of their natural hair.

"Wow - we really f-ed this one up! Please know that our intent was not, and would never be, to disrespect our community," Shea Moisture said. "So, you're right. We are different - and we should know better."

Last year Shea Moisture was being heralded for its work on the #BreaktheWalls advertising campaign. The series of commercials questioned and raised awareness about the continued presence of "ethnic" aisles at stores. Products for women of color are shelved in those aisles at many locations while hair care products for white women are placed in the "beauty" aisle.

While Shea Moisture may be branching out to court non-WOC to try their hair and skin care products, another successful beauty company is reaching out in another direction. Pantene recently announced a whole new line of products specifically designed to care for the hair of black women. Since 2008, the sale of curl relaxing products has declined 26 percent, indicating a growing number of African-Americans might be fully embracing the natural beauty of their hair instead of trying to completely alter its curly texture.

What do you think about the Shea Moisture ad and the apology offered by the black-owned company?

[Featured Image by Anastasiia Kazakova/Shutterstock]