Atlanta, GA., September 26th, 2019 / Giselle Ave. Media — It was just another day on social media, and H&M was trending, again. I just knew their marketing team was up to something that was causing rage within the black community. So instead of fishing for the latest breaking news story via H&M’s marketing department, I decided to protect my peace and just mind my business. But then, I noticed a Facebook friend of mine shared a loooong post about what was “wrong with this young girl’s hair.”
The Story: H&M Comes Under Fire for a New Messy Hair Ad Campaign
This back to school season was actually really fun to watch on social media. Usually, the parents are showing off their children’s latest back to school outfits and stylish hair. But, not this year. This year, Mothers were sharing before and AFTER pictures of their daughters coming from school. A lot of the captions are filled with: “How did she go from this, to that? Where are your shoes? What happened at school today?” It’s actually been quite amusing to watch, even my niece’s pics have made it to Facebook’s “What’s going on in Kindergarten?” trending topics.
Here’s my niece’s before and after picture….. and this was picture day! Photo Credit, her mother Vijic Victoria
Autumn Bella, before school…..
Autumn Bella, AFTER school…..
Honestly, this is the cutest trending topic on Facebook right now. I’ve really enjoyed seeing these iconic before and after pics. So, just as any smart brand would, H&M decided to create a new ad campaign that highlights how young girls transform during school. This ad campaign featured several young girls, of different races, showing off their before and after school looks, while modeling the latest back to school gear from H&M.
There’s nothing “wrong” with that babygirl’s hair!
After noticing why H&M was trending, I couldn’t help but notice how the one black girl featured in the campaign was being isolated and ridiculed because of her hair texture/style. There were tons of debates online, among black women, sharing their opposition to the young black girls’ photos. From her hair being “unkept,” to her hair being “damaged,” it kept going on, and on, and on. In fact, I decided to share my own two cents on one of my Facebook friends’ posts.
Here’s what she had to say:
Her post was filled with commentary that agreed to her point: why is the black girl’s hair damaged and unkept, when the other little girl’s hair is “long, and frazzled or the wind blew it?” To be honest, I appreciated the commentary and her original post because it showed me how complex the topic of black hair can be. Of course, I have a different opinion but that’s exactly what inspired me to share this post: why can’t black girls enjoy the messy hair look, too?
My comment on her post was, well…..
Why Can’t Black Girls Enjoy the Messy Hair Look, too?
So, I’ll pose my question again: what was wrong with the young girl’s hair? Why can’t black girls enjoy the “messy hair look?” As a black woman, with natural hair, I find it upsetting that BLACK WOMEN are the ones calling this young girl’s hair undone, unkept, and unacceptable. This is a deeply rooted issue within the black community and frankly, it’s a sensitive topic for me. I went natural back in 2012, and as a millennial woman, I knew that I was embracing a totally new concept. But fast forward to a few years later, I noticed MANY millennial women were going natural, and the natural hair movement kicked off. Unfortunately, the black women before us are the ones that tend to hold on to past ideals of what black hair beauty looks like. I will never forget my grandmother’s comments when I first went natural, “you need to go comb your hair.” I was like, dang grandma?! About a year later, once it grew out, she was like “That’s cute!” Ha!
It’s hard to be a pioneer of anything, but once you get past the judgement and ridicule, it feels good to stick to your guns and truly embrace your natural self. What I do know is that this conversation of nappy or straight has been going on way before my time. Even in the 1960’s there were women who preferred a permed look, over a politically charged afro. Either way, the conversation is still alive and well until this day. Is the “embrace your natural hair movement” a mere theory and marketing tactic to get black women’s money? So what if my curls aren’t “popping,” does that mean my natural hair isn’t good enough? Listen, the next generation of young black girls NEED BOLD ROLE MODELS, that aren’t ashamed of their natural hair. Since I became a full-time entrepreneur, I’ve enjoyed wearing all kinds of hairstyles because I no longer confine myself to the standards of beauty deemed acceptably by corporate or institutions that NEVER accepted us in the first place! But, that’s another topic, for another day.
I’ve been a hostage to weaves for far too long, and once I started embracing my natural hair back in 2012, my entire outlook changed. Of course I will wear a cute wig, braids, locs, a twist out, a fro, and any other style I choose to wear! This is why murals like “Hey Brown Girl, You’re Beautiful,” exist– we need to be reminded of this! No matter what our hair looks like.
It’s my hair, I care!
Nevertheless, here’s a picture of ME, without my hair being “combed.”
So, which side are you on, because clearly H&M’s ad campaign is up for debate. I, for one, don’t see anything terribly wrong with this young girl’s hair. It’s the insecurities and preferences of the general public that determined there was something wrong, and that’s the real issue at hand.
Belle in the City Giselle