There’s really no pleasing everybody.
Dove recently came out with their “Love Your Curls” Campaign. It was received with mixed reviews–particularly by African American women. Some loved it and were moved to tears. Some thought it was a hijacking and white-washing of the natural hair movement.
The majority of complaints stemmed from “there weren’t enough black people” in the commercial to “those aren’t even curls, they are waves.” (which, oddly enough, a wave is a loose curl).
Dove is known for being the brand of the normal woman beauty–the love who you are beauty. So when I saw the commercial, I didn’t see it as a race thing. It was a hair thing. A self-esteem thing. It was a baby step in the right direction of acknowledging there is more than one standard of beauty and it’s okay to love the hair that’s yours. Because whether your black, white, middle eastern, or hispanic, if you have curly/coily/kinky hair, you’ve been made to believe, at some point in your life, that your hair isn’t beautiful.
According to the campaign, only 4 out 10 girls with curly hair actually like their hair. This is a sad figure. The fact that a child’s self-esteem is brought so low because we persist with this nonsensical singular view, shows just how much a campaign of this sort is needed.
The commercial, in my opinion, represented a spectrum of curls–including the variety you find amongst black women (just see the featured image–which are all stills from various points of the commercial). I think that sometimes we forget that the straight-haired standard of beauty is so reinforced that it affects women of all races with curly hair.
For us, the hair thing is largely inter-related with the race thing. In America, race relations are tenuous at best and it is mostly seen as a battle of white versus black. We tend to forget all the other voices that are lost in between.
I personally felt that Dove did a fine job representing whites, hispanics, and blacks in its “Love Your Curls” campaign (again, see featured image). Could Dove have included more dark-skinned, black people? Of course. Could more kinky-haired children be included? Absolutely. But was that necessary? No, it wasn’t. That wasn’t the point of the campaign.
Above all, you have to remember that Dove is a mainstream commercial brand. They’re not a specific race’s brand. They’re not all of a sudden going to cater singularly to black women–that is a ridiculous expectation (and don’t get me wrong–for all the critics, two of the seven children and at least one woman were dark-skinned, kinky-haired beauties, not to mention the lighter complexion black women and children represented). They are trying to sell a product, so they’re going to appeal to the widest potential client base. But the fact that a mainstream brand is actually recognizing the need to not cater only to the straight-haired standard, we can count it as a baby win.
Even if the natural hair movement was the catalyst behind this campaign, the fact that other women were also represented did not offend me. After all, to me, the point of the natural hair movement is to get a different standard of beauty–our standard–mainstream so that we and our daughters moving forward can love who we are, naturally, and not be forced into thinking ourselves inferior because we don’t fit a standard that we were never meant to mold ourselves into. This is one step closer. I count it as a victory.
I’ve said it before, I don’t think the aim of the movement is to replace the current image with our sole image–that wouldn’t make sense. But some people seem to act like unless mainstream features only black women, it’s a loss. I feel like those people missed the point. In my mind, the thinking should be as long as black women are accepted for all the features that make us, us–it’s a win.