"Yikes, what a mess!" was my initial reaction after hearing about the controversial Dove Facebook ad over the weekend. It's a delicate matter to say the least.
Here's the thing, quiet as it's kept, my household has been a Dove one for years now. Actually, that's not even a secret. Many of "us" have grown up on the 60-year-old brand. Yes, I test many products across the gamut but Dove has been my fail-safe. It's cheap, consistent and convenient, plus it's widely available at both a drugstore (in my case, a corner store) near you. Not to mention that for years I've admired Dove for their "real woman" campaign and position on body positivity as of late.
But despite all of the above, the actual problem lies within representation of people of color. After viewing the full ad, I was more confused than offended. Was the goal to show me that I too can use body wash like a Caucasian woman? If that's the case, was the brand fearful the Black and Latina community was unaware of that in the first place? Was it ever unclear that soap is pretty much for anyone despite color, creed or gender? In short, what was the point of this Facebook ad?
When it comes to inclusion, the lackluster effort of pulling together a United Colors of Benetton-inspired beauty ad falls on deaf ears, especially to the Black community. Just because we're there doesn't make it enough. Let me repeat that for those in the back, just because you include people of color in your ad still isn't enough. It's so much deeper than that.
Yet, time and time again we find ourselves in the same place: outraged that mass retailer brands don't get it. "Who approved this ad?" we asked, when Shea Moisture came under fire for their own hiccup. "How could they do this?" we asked when Ouidad dropped the ball on the natural hair community. "What were they thinking?" we asked YSL when they showcased one single brown shade.
I don't know the inner workings of these brands, but I do know the likelihood of people of color having a say is slim to none. "We the people" can't object if we aren't even in the room. And if you do happen to have a seat at the table, are you willing to fight to be heard about nixing a tone-deaf concept?
Personally, I've been there. It's hard to be the sole Black person trying to call out something offensive to a room filled with white constituents. Choice words like over-sensitive, angry, aggressive, etc., start to float around as descriptors when someone tends to speak up. It's not right but it's a reality.
So what do we do here? I'm not exactly sure of the solution. I do appreciate the sentiment of buying Black and supporting our own. However, it saddens me that this topic only comes up when "other" brands disrespect us. Shouldn't we be supporting our own beyond Black History Month? Is it worth it to you to spend a little bit more to support someone who understands your beauty struggles? There are so many brands available! Looks like we can all do better on that front, myself included.
Perhaps this is another reminder why we all need to be sensitive about our skin. No pun intended.
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For the past 10 years, Yusef has been dictating all of the beauty trends we emulate via his most famous client, none other than Rihanna. He started out his career as a performer, but he ended up behind the scenes. In Hairstory, he details his rise in the industry from aspiring singer to creative directing the hair for Fenty x Puma.