All products matter

Savon Gray

Childhood teaches us to view everyone as beautiful; that we should embrace others’ looks, no matter how different they are.

If this is the case, why are hair products segregated into “beauty” and “ethnic” aisles?

SheaMoisture, a widely popular hair and skin brand, took a stand in 2016 by starting their #BreakTheWalls campaign, designed to challenge product segregation.

Hospitality and Tourism Management graduate student Xavia Gantz is a frequent buyer of styling products for her natural hair, but doesn’t see reason for the products she uses to be separate from the rest.

“Having products in the ethnic aisle makes it easier to find my products, but what is occurring in our stores is occurring in our society,” said Gantz. “Natural hair is viewed as ‘different’ or ‘other’ in America, and this is shown in the aisles.”

Research conducted by the Perception Institute in 2016 revealed what many were already aware of – that there is a general bias shown against natural hair worn by black women. The study found that white women, on average, show bias  against black women’s textured hair, rating it as less beautiful and professional than smooth hair. The study also found that black women feel a social stigma against their natural hair, which is strengthened by how society as a whole views them.

Regardless of how society views what grows from their scalps, the natural movement is growing exponentially throughout the African American community. According to a study from intelligence agency Mintel, in 2013 nearly two-thirds of African American women wore their natural hair.

These changes can be seen economically, as sales in hair relaxers dropped 18.6 percent from 2013-2015, while sales in styling products increased about 26.8 percent during the same time period.

As we are watching more and more Americans wear their natural hair, shouldn’t we show them we mean it when we say, “everyone is beautiful?” When we send our children not to the beauty aisle but to the ethnic aisle to find their products, what message are we sending?

Separating ‘ethnic’ products from ‘beauty’ products separates the beautiful from the rest. We are all beautiful; let’s reflect that in every way we can, including product placement.

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