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Shea Moisture, a hair and skin care company founded in Harlem in 1991 for black women’s needs, is facing backlash after releasing its newest ad depicting three women — a black woman, and two white women, one blonde and one redhead — talking about embracing their “natural” hair.

In the 60-second ad, the black woman talks about being bullied as a child for her natural, voluminous curls, while the other women discuss hating their sometimes limp locks and unusual hair color. “Break free from hair hate,” touts the ad.Many of Shea’s loyal customers, however, are unhappy with the brand’s comparison of embracing red hair to embracing natural black texture. Several studies conducted in the U.S. have found that black women who wear their natural texture, or who wear their hair in a traditional African-American styles like dreads, braids or cornrows, are seen as less competent than their peers who chemically straighten their hair or opt for weaves. The consequences for African-American women who choose to embrace their natural texture have, historically, been more severe than white women who choose to “embrace” their red hair.That’s not to say that white women don’t suffer from self-confidence issues stemming from their locks, but the juxtaposition of the two issues as equal — especially coming from a company that was founded by and for black women — is causing outrage on Twitter.

Several customers have criticized the company for “gentrifying” the issue of natural hair in an attempt to woo new, white users. “I get Shea Moisture wanting to get that crossover coin, BUT a black woman going natural isn’t the same as embracing your hair,” wrote one woman on Twitter. Do you guys see anything wrong with this ad?

Here’s Their Apology

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