Dove’s “Love Your Curls” Campaign: A Problem or Hope for a Solution?

Featured image from Dove Hair: Love Your Curls Opening Scene

I’ve been mulling over Dove’s new “Love Your Curls” campaign for the past few weeks and I have to admit: I’m still on the fence about how I feel about it.

On one hand, I was extremely excited when I first saw it. I absolutely teared up when I saw the little girls talking about how they thought their hair wasn’t beautiful (although I’m not sure that says too much, I am a crier…) because it reminded me how I felt when I was younger.

I straightened my hair almost every week during the school year until about 10th grade when I realized how damaging, time-consuming, and annoying it was to take care of my hair that way. At that point, I kind of just gave up and let my hair do what it wanted without knowing how to properly take care of it, because all I knew how to do was to wear my hair straight.

The ads I saw on TV showed sleek, shiny, perfectly straight hair, and each product was just supposed to make it sleeker, shinier and straighter. Straight hair was the ideal, and there was simply no space for curls. While I do think there is a growing presence due to how many women are deciding to go natural now, there definitely is still a huge gap in the media representation of the “curly gurls.”

And that’s why I was so happy about the Dove campaign, because there was finally a platform just for curls, and they were promoting self-love and acceptance. They were teaching it to young girls and that was wonderful.

But on the other hand, a friend recently showed me this article and I was reminded that even your faves can be problematic.

The author of the article claims that the campaign appropriates the black women’s natural hair movement without properly crediting or featuring the black community. To some degree, I do see where she is coming from, especially with regard to the following tweet:

Many women felt that Dove’s advertisement of these tips was an appropriation of black hair techniques; the company’s attempt at exploiting the natural hair movement.

And I can understand this, these exact techniques were the first ones I learned when I started wearing my hair curly. I learned them from watching black women on YouTube.

I even see the author’s frustration about lack of representation—although I do feel like there was definitely an effort made in the diversity department—as the girls featured in the ad were either white or mixed, and many of the so-called unruly frizzies seemed to be the result of a curling wand.

I thought there was a good mixture of curl patterns though, and I was honestly just glad they were taking a step in the right direction in terms of curly representation. They won’t get it 100% right in the beginning, but hopefully this is the first of many campaigns to come in support of curls.

And to those saying that this ad was simply a ploy to make more money I say of course. It’s an advertisement from one of the largest personal care brands on the market; all of their campaigns are there to promote their products. But for once, it’s nice to know that the company is also keeping the self-esteem of their consumers in mind, which is why, at least to some extent, I try to find the good in Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaigns.

I think the most important thing I try to keep in mind when considering the “Love Your Curls” campaign are the young girls out there who identify with the girls in the commercial. Because maybe if this had been around when I was 10 years old, I would have realized I didn’t need to feel ashamed of the way my hair looked. Maybe if we focus on spreading the importance of self-love and acceptance, we’ll be able to celebrate the beauty of curly girls everywhere.

If women of any age, race, or curl pattern were reassured by this campaign, then I think it served its purpose. I’m not saying we don’t need to address its issues, but let’s not throw away any good that can come out of it either.

Hair is certainly something that the black community takes great pride in, and I’m beginning to learn how advertising something usually practiced within that community can be construed as appropriation.

However, I still think that sharing these tips and celebrating the healthy care of curly hair is something to be proud of. It’s certainly the start of the kind of representation I’ve needed for years.

Amy Parker is from Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, and she is a freshman at Northwestern University. If you are interested in submitting a guest post please visit our application page.

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