Shea Moisture, White Women, and A Seat at the Table.

So as I am sure you have all heard by now, the official executive board of Black Girl Magic has hereby decreed that Shea Moisture is in fact, cancelled. But what brought about this pearl-clutching conclusion, you might ask? Let me clue you in, sis.

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This past Monday, Shea Moisture released an advertisement video starring a woman of color with a loose curl pattern, and several white women. The backlash that followed was a mix of outraged Black women who felt betrayed after being long term Shea Moisture brand supporters, and people questioning why these Black women were outraged as opposed to listening to their very clear and valid reasoning. You know, the usual.

So to those lost and confused about why Shea Moisture products will no longer be finding a home in the cabinets of Black women all across the land, I have compiled a list of 3 easy points:

1. Shea Moisture would not be what it is without Black women and Black Hair.

Period. Not up for debate. Straight like that. Since Shea Moisture products first hit the market, its largest consumer demographic has been Black women.  The ingredients cater to the very specific texture of Black hair, so its quality was quickly celebrated and shared within the Black community by way of endless tutorials, blog posts, and product reviews. This support secured its spot as a staple hair care brand in the natural hair movement. So when Shea Moisture released this ad under the guise of promoting “inclusion of all hair types,” and failed to include the one hair type that has been responsible for lining its pockets since day one, what else is there to feel but a bloody knife in our backs? When you bite the hand that feeds you, prepare to starve.

2. Not all hair types are created equal.

The elephant in the room at every conversation about natural hair is that there exists a rift in the community. What most people do not realize is that Black hair exists on a scale ranging largely from 3A to 4C, and different hair types require different products. Hair with a looser curl pattern tends to be praised far more than tightly coiled hair as a result of it being seen as the “acceptable” natural texture.

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As a result of this stigma, Black women with type 3 hair are often chosen to be the face of the natural hair movement.  This means that the popular videos, blog posts, and product reviews tend to be heavily geared toward the maintenance of type 3 hair. However, Black women with type 4 hair found solace in Shea Moisture products.  It has been a brand that was known for working well with type 4 hair, which was invaluable given that such limited information is provided for this hair type. So imagine how big a slap in the face it is when people say “But look! A woman of color is in the commercial! Her hair is curly too!” Yes, it is, but it is nothing like mine. When the only curly girl that narrowly made it into this very white washed commercial flipped her type 3 hair and asked for my pity over this “hair hate” that she has experienced, I had no choice but to roll my eyes so far into the back of my head that they got stuck. I’m legally blind. Thanks, Shea Moisture. 

 3. White women already have their own hair products.

Have you heard of Pantene? Aussie? L’Oreal? Garnier Fructis, maybe? I can name you hair care lines geared toward white women ‘til I’m blue in the face, pass out, wake up, and name you ten more. If Shea Moisture really cared about inclusion, they would prompt other brands to make more products geared toward Black Hair, seeing as that market is extremely narrow in the grand scheme of things.

 White women never needed a seat at this table when the whole damn house was built for them. 

Lindsay YoungComment