New Dove Film – Why the hate?


I have always admired Dove for their real beauty campaign and using real women in their advertising. So I was delighted last week to see their latest film by marketing company Ogilvy & Mather entitled Love your Curls.

The ad starts with a statement saying that “Only 4 out of 10 curly haired girls think their hair is beautiful”. Then it shows clips of interviews with young girls, who feel sad about their curly hair and believe they would be more beautiful with straight hair.  After this the girls friends and families are dancing with them down the street and leading them into a surprise party where everyone there is celebrating their curls (this bit is a little cheesy but sweet). Everyone is singing and dancing to the song  ‘We all love our curls’, which was especially composed for the advert. A final statement states that “Girls are 7 times more likely to love their curls if the people around them do”. You can watch it here.

Rob Candelino, VP of marketing for haircare at Unilever, spoke about the new film in an interview with Adweek. They noted that quite a few black girls and women were featured in the advertisement and wanted to know if Rob thought the advert made a particular statement about the discussion regarding natural hair versus relaxed hair in the black community—or women who relax their hair or their children’s hair. He said “The ‘Dove Hair: Love Your Curls’ campaign was crafted with an emphasis on encouraging all women to embrace their individual curl type and texture, regardless of race or ethnicity… Beauty, confidence and self-esteem are wide and far-reaching topics. Dove believes that every woman has the opportunity to make a difference in a girl’s life and have a positive impact on her self-confidence. The Dove Hair: Love Your Curls campaign is intended to motivate and inspire all women and girls with curls.” [Source]

I liked the advert a lot and shared it everywhere. So I was very surprised by the negative response from many of our natural sisters. They said they were suspicious, that Dove had ulterior motives and that Dove was taking something from us, something that we created. They said that the natural struggle was ours alone and no one should be trying to get in on this struggle. There was so much anger.

I even saw people complaining that they even didn’t use particular hair types. Natural’s we need to get away from this hair type business if it is going to divide us.  I saw many different hair types right here…

Dove - Love Curls
Dove have done a number of campaigns highlighting natural beauty for women of all nationalities, shapes and ages. Off the top of my head I can’t think of many other mainstream beauty companies that have any interest in promoting confidence in women. Yes they are company but if they’re putting out a positive message for our young girls to love themselves, why should this be a problem?

When people that say that Dove are “taking our problem”, I find it a hard concept to understand as when we are fighting for something we want as much support as possible. For example, there has been a long struggle against racism in this country. Would the struggle be more successful if it was only black people could support racial equality? Or would there be more support wheelchair users in the office if they were only supported by other wheelchair users? I don’t believe so.

Others have said that Dove doesn’t know the problems of black women. It seems to me that Dove have done their research and have determined that that there is an issue with curly hair across many nationalities. I believe that although this is a big issue in the black community, accepting curly hair is also an issue with women outside our community as well. Dove won’t know the story in the black community as well people in the black community, but that not the most important thing.  The important thing is that the message about accepting natural beauty and celebrating it has just got a tiny bit louder.

Imagine what a generation of young girls could achieve if they loved their hair, eyes, body, skin, etc etc. Perfect this way? Yes we are!



  1. At first I thought the ad was sweet but then it really sunk in and I felt a bit suspicious. Its great that its not only women of colour in the ad, beucase are not not the only people with curly hair. Its great that there are women and girls of colour in the ad it means that the topic of natural hair is now on larger platform and wish give us the chance for more product choice. However, I felt myself wondering do they really care about us? Or, are the jumping on the bandwagon because its clear to see that natural hair is on the rise and not going anywhere, so why not make some money out of it.

    At the end of the day, we choose how and where we send our money. If you don’t by into the campaign you can go elsewhere. In spite of suspicions I’m always happy for a conversation that brings things to light. No doubt there will be lots said about this ad I hope it brings us closing to understanding each other.

  2. Because the struggles black people face are not for white people to make money off. We are ignored or vilified or maligned until our money is sought.

    Because Dove does not seek to uplift women – of any colour; Dove seeks to insiduously give them something to feel inferior about, before conveniently suggesting a Dove product to make things all better. Dancing in the street and all that twee stuff – typical of the ‘hip’ movements that lack any sort of depth, forgotten as soon as the ad is over so everyone can return to disregarding us. Yes, let’s dance away the internalised feelings of inferiority in a ‘hip’ studio paid for by Unilever, rather than have deeper, more long-lasting conversations about building self esteem, and working to eradicate the intersecting forms of oppression that lead to young girls hating themselves just for existing.

    Because ‘black’ seems to mean light skinned black (or half black) – thus reinforcing the erasure of dark skinned black girls and women who are told from both within and outside the black community that they are less than. Where are the girls with kinky hair? Or does kinky hair not fit into the ‘curly’ narrative?

    Because black people are increasingly not savvy enough to see when they are being played, and would gladly uphold oppression because popular non-white thought thinks it trendy.

    Because Dove is not a moral movement that really understands the nature of white supremacy – it only seeks to make money…