Lately, I can’t help but notice the surge of questionable television advertisements for black haircare lines. Though the ads often highlight awesome products that myself and women I know have tried, used, and loved for years, it seems as though the commercials have grown to be a bit one-sided and stereotypical. From what I’ve gathered, the vast majority of black hair commercials of late share the same 3 unfortunate components:
1.) The Homegirls.
More often then not, in a black hair commercial, you’ll find a group of women – the homegirls. Whether they’re in the bathroom getting ready for the club, out on the town, or even sitting around at lunch chatting and catching up, there will typically be at least two or three women involved. Somehow, the scene is always set against the tune of some bland, repetitive, hip-hop beat. And the conversation, though light and fun, is always discreetly laced with the most stereotypical black girl slang. Maybe I’m just out of the loop, but I can’t recall the last time I used phrases like “the bomb”, “I’m about to hook you up”, and “played out” amongst my friends. And all the neck rolling, gum-popping, and hair flipping to get a point across?! What’s up with that, America? Is that really how “we” act, as a whole? I can’t deal.
2.) The Same Look.
Though there are usually several women in the commercials, there is seldom much variety amongst the models’ looks and the hair styles that they wear. You can pretty much bet your last coin that all the women will have straightened hair of a dark brown or black hue. Now I can’t quite decide if this is because the products being advertised cater towards these specific looks, or if it’s because we’re to believe that straight, dark hair is more favorable than curly or colored hair. But I don’t like it, either way. I honestly can’t recall the last time I saw a commercial where women with natural or more unique hairstyles were represented, though these are the women I see out and about everyday. And I won’t even delve into the point that women who are clearly wearing weaves are often used to promote products that claim to strengthen and protect our own hair. Now, I’m currently and quite proudly wearing a partial sew-in myself, so this is in no way an anti-weave rant. However, if the products are supposed to make our natural hair fuller, healthier, and more shiny, the last thing I want to see is 8 ounces of Indian Remy being flipped and blown around, disguised as the results of a quality product. False advertising.
3.) The Problem.
From what I’ve noticed, black hair commercials almost always present a dilemma. Whether it’s “nappy” roots, fuzzy edges, or split ends – there is always some sort of problem to be corrected. Of course, I fully understand that products are created to correct specific hair concerns. However, why is it that we never see advertisements for basic, everyday products such as shampoo or deep conditioners. Are we, as black women, really only running to the haircare aisle when we need to zap new-growth with a relaxer or slick down “edges” with the latest, greatest gel or pomade?! I’d certainly beg to differ. While women of other ethnicities are regularly being offered quality products for routine maintenance and upkeep, it seems as though many of the ads geared specifically towards women of color are looking to fix our hair, as if it were a burden of some sort. It’s no coincidence that the vast majority of our commercials are for do-it-yourself relaxers. Where are the ads for natural haircare products? I’ll wait…
Check out a few examples we’ve gathered of black haircare commercials, past and present:
We’d love to hear your thoughts! Are these commercials simply for entertainment, or perpetuating racial stereotypes? Are eyebrow-raising ads doing quality products any justice?
- Chelsea Smith