How Shea Moisture Broke Down Walls So They Could Build New Ones

April 25, 2017

#SheaMoisure #wellwellwell #youdiditnow … except, it’s not really a surprise, is it?  At least not to me.  I saw it coming a year ago…

First They Break the Old Imaginary Walls

Do you remember the video ad that came out just a little over a year ago by Shea Moisture?  I’m sure we all do; but if not, take a minute to click the link on the image below to see the video.

Well when that commercial came out, I thought ‘whoohoo! finally! someone trying to do something about this division in our beauty section!‘  So I ran to my nearest Target to see if they had broken down their aisles to show a new age in hair care for women of all hair types and textures.  They hadn’t.  You know why the walls of my Target weren’t broken down?


I thought back and realized that there was never a division of sections the way Shea Moisture was describing.  There is, however, an organizational structure for stocking products because of the amount and variety of hair care products that exists.  Also, most natural women can use Pantene or Aussie Moist in our hair, but most straight-haired women cannot use As I Am or Uncle Funky’s Daughter products in theirs.  Our hair types and needs are different.

#everythingisnotforeverybody #andthatisokay

So while I get why that commercial would have been necessary in the 1980’s, I never quite understood why Shea Moisture was making up invisible walls to break down.

Until I really thought about it.  And I said, “ah, they are trying to find a way to creep over to the “non-ethnic” side of the beauty aisle and put their products there for sale.”  This isn’t about the black woman and how we feel when we go shopping for natural hair products.  This is about Shea Moisture as a company trying to expand their demographic.  While I don’t find that ‘shameful’, per say, I did find the way they went about it just a tad dishonest.

Then They Build New Real Walls

So fast forward to today.  Well, actually, yesterday.  Now that Shea Moisture has torn down their imaginary walls and tried to make everyone’s hair “normal”, the next step is to bring everyone into the fold, while taking a subtle turn of the camera to view only the skin tones and hair color that society has told women all our lives is more beautiful and more desirable.  In essence, Shea Moisture acknowledged white women and a bi-racial, non-dark, non-kinky-haired woman while completely ignoring the natural darker-skinned women who use their products a vast majority of the time.

You may still be able to watch the commercial, here.

And then to top it off, they had Beckies-with-the-good-hair talk about how they have struggled with their hair and feeling beautiful their whole lives; leaving many of us scratching our heads in confusion.

And black people hit. the. roof.

I mean the blacklash from the commercial broke Twitter, YouTube, and Shea Moisture.  People have “cancelled” Shea Moisture, are protesting their products, and have tweeted, vlogged, and blogged about Shea Moisture.

If you wanted to gain some more publicity, this was definitely the way to go.  Though you have to ask what kind of publicity and was it worth it?

And speaking of walls, Shea Moisture did what Trump hasn’t been able to do and constructed new walls.  In just one day.

Just saying.

Because now you’ve managed to alienate darker-skinned uni-racial (is that a term?) women with coarse, kinky, textured hair from those whose hair textures you now want to include.

Damaging the Demographic

See, I don’t think that most people are mad at Shea Moisture for wanting to expand their product lines and offer more products to more people.  I seriously doubt that’s the issue.  But I do think that Shea Moisture has gone about this all wrong.  You’re trying to part the sections of your new business plan with a fine-tooth rat-tail comb, when you should be using a wide-tooth comb to slowly work out the kinks.

I just couldn’t help myself…

What I mean is that just because you are trying to diversify for a wider demographic, doesn’t mean that you should do it at the expense of black women.  You can’t pull in a new demographic by ignoring your first and core demographic.

I mean, I guess you can, but it’s not right.

Who’s your core audience?

Who purchases, reviews, blogs about, vlogs about, raves about, and uses your products?

Who put you on the map?

To whom did you target with your initial marketing?

Who has backed you and helped you climb that ladder to success?

And who did you “forget” to include in this latest commercial?

That’s right, the answer to all of those questions is ‘black women‘.

If there is anyone who can speak to hair hate, it is black women.  When discrimination happens in the workplace because of a hair style, it happens to black women.  When little girls who are shown from day one that lighter skin tones and looser hair textures are more attractive, they grow up to be black women, hating themselves because of skin tone and hair texture.  And when we chose to return to our natural hair textures but had problems finding products in the beauty aisle, and then Shea Moisture was created, it was black women who purchased this new natural hair care phenomenon by the bags.

Huh, looks like black women ended up behind that fake wall you said you were breaking down but were really building on the other side.

So let me get your business plan straight:

You start out by making a product that you know will have potential to become a staple for black women with natural hair because the natural hair movement is now becoming more popular.  Then you market to us and use us to market to each other.  So you can take our money – and we spend it in handfuls to get some of that Shea Moisture that everyone is talking about.  Because obviously our money is good enough for you then.  But when you want to expand and become more ‘inclusive’ our skin tone and hair texture are no longer good for business, now.  Did I get that right?  So apparently not #EverybodyGetsLove anymore.  Slow clap to you, Shea Moisture.

Wow, okay – so guys, listen, we really f-ed this one up.  ~Shea Moisture

Oh did you now?

I wonder how Shea Moisture is going to repair the damage they did to their premiere and core demographic.  Or is this lame apology going to be enough?  Some people call it damage control.  Here in the true-natural hair community, we call it protective styling.  So how are you going to style this mishap, Shea Moisture?

Okay, that was my last one.  I’m done now…

This Isn’t Personal, It’s Business

…at least not to me.  I haven’t used or supported Shea Moisture for some time.  See I’ve always been more of an “indie natural hair b(v)logger” so even though I supported them from day one of my natural hair journey, wrote posts giving rave reviews, and had videos up showing how awesome I thought their products were – they never thought I was good enough or big enough or popular enough to be an ambassador for them.  So when I realized that I was giving them free publicity and pretty much acting as an ambassador for their products without the title or recognition, I stopped.  Completely.  Call it a personal protest.  Call it petty.  #butIdigress

Later, though, I came to understand that having the popular YouTubers and bloggers that you saw in the #BreaktheWalls video was how Shea Moisture stayed in the game and on the map.  They didn’t need a small fry like me because they had the eyes of those with millions of subscribers – subscribers who would run out in droves to purchase whatever their YouTube idols reviewed, liked, and used.  And when it was Shea Moisture, subscribers and black natural hair consumers went out and purchased Shea Moisture.  It’s business 101.  It’s smart.  I didn’t like it; but I understood it.

So now, instead of being all mad and offended that Shea Moisture made a business move instead of a personal move (#businessesarenotloyal), I can look at it and understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.

They want to expand and grow.  And they probably don’t want to be stuck in a box.  Or, as my sister would say, typecast.  So in order to increase revenues and gain more opportunities – opportunities that they may not get in the black community – they need to expand their demographic and broaden their visibility.

If it’s not personal to them, then don’t make it personal to you.  This is a free-market society where you can choose where to spend your dolla-dolla-billz, y’all.  Or at least last time I checked it still was.  #justgiveTrumptime  So instead of getting mad… you know… take your money elsewhere.  If it’s black-owned natural hair companies you want, then check these out:

Money talks.  Spend your money where you want to spend your money.  Find products that will work for your natural hair.  If those products happen to be Shea Moisture, then handle your business.  No?  Then find something else.  Want to send a message?  Stop buying Shea Moisture.  Or don’t.  That’s your business.  But don’t give Shea Moisture, or any company, exclusive rights to your natural hair journey.

You [Still] Mad?

So yes, black women have every right to be mad, in my opinion.  But Shea Moisture also has every right to take their business where they want to take it.  In my opinion.  But I completely disagree with the way Shea Moisture chose to do it – by turning their backs on the very people whose backs they rode to get to where they are today.  That commercial was like a slap in the face, guys.

Actually, it was like when a man divorces a woman and then brings the new and seemingly younger, more attractive desirable woman to the family reunion a year later.  Black women feel dumped.

And I know some of you will bring up the latest tweets between Shea Moisture and Tariq Nasheed that proves they may not be as sorry as they claimed to be.

In other words, #sorrynotsorry said Shea Moisture.

Ah well.  That may be the proverbial straw that buries Shea Moisture.  Or it may not be.  Mr. Nasheed must be a big $upporter of Shea Moisture.  Investor?  Maybe he uses their products?  Well whatever his reason for making that lame analogy to two completely different situations, Shea Moisture was most grateful to have “wonderful people” like him speaking for them.  Both of them can have several seats.  Together.

And to that I say, then let Tariq help you keep your business “going strong”, Shea Moisture.  Obviously black women aren’t “wonderful” enough to warrant your sincerity.  As for me, nothing will change on my end.

So what do you think of this whole Shea Moisture bumblef—?  Are you mad enough to stop supporting Shea Moisture or do you even care?

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