“There’s a section called “ethnic” and there’s an aisle called “beauty”
“We’ve dealt with it our whole lives”
“Is ethnic not beautiful?”
“This is just the way it is”
“How can I break down these walls?”
These thoughts and feelings are shared by many women who shop at stores that shelve their ethnic hair products separate from the beauty aisle. In their first-ever TV commercial, natural hair care brand SheaMoisture, teamed up with celebrity vlogger Whitney White (Naptural85) to launch a national call-to-action to #BreakTheWalls.
In a 60 second short-film, Whitney along with bloggers Jessica Lewis (Mahogany Curls) and Alba Garcia (SunKissAlba) shop for hair products in the ethnic hair section as these thoughts and others are voiced. The revolutionary campaign seeks to break down the beauty aisle walls by making products accessible to all based on needs not background.
“#BreakTheWalls is an extension of SheaMoisture’s focus on what it has coined as the New General Market and ensuring that all consumers, especially those who have been traditionally underserved, have an enhanced product and shopping experience based on being served according to their needs, not traditional segmentation. This problem-solution approach, defined by inclusion and commonalities via need states, is shifting the way CPG, retail and other consumer companies approach product development, marketing and merchandising to serve all consumers in a much more elevated way.” said Richelieu Dennis, CEO of SheaMoisture
The commercial aired earlier this morning on The Real where Richelieu and Whitney sat down with the ladies to discuss the #BreakTheWalls campaign and the natural hair movement.
“I hope that it starts conversations…it begins letting us question what we’ve accepted to be normal and why–and also start to think about other things that we’ve accepted as a culture or as a people and why do we accept that to be ok?” said Whitney on the call-to-action campaign.
What other segmentation have you come across in your daily lives?
For me, long before I returned to natural I remember shopping for beauty products and coming across the “ethnic hair” section. I questioned it–though I didn’t fully understand the possible significance behind it. The feeling I had in that moment resulted in me leaving the store. Empty-handed. It was very similar to the feeling I had when visiting the bookstore that was housed in Penn Station terminal many years ago. I had dropped in on my way to somewhere else. I browsed through the romance novels before wondering if a particular author had a new release out. After being unable to find her on the shelves I stood in line to ask the one employee if they carried her novels.
“That’s urban fiction,” he said. “She’s in the African-American section.”
That African-American section was a dimly lit alcove, far from the bustle of the entrance and registers that all sound was muted. It felt apart from the rest of the store. I was so bothered by the location of the books and the existence of a separate section that I applied to college–and focused on completing my undergraduate degree so that I could apply for a Master’s degree and write a dissertation on the topic.
I am both proud and excited to see that a brand is taking the steps to change this–starting the conversation–and hope that they get the support from the community and other brands to make a difference.
Highlighting the journey of Black women as they create spaces and elevate Black culture.