Thursday, October 25, 2007

My Black is Beautiful (Fine Print: Except when it starts peeking out around my hairline. Then I need to run to the salon for some chemicals, baby!)

I love the spirit of Proctor & Gamble's new My Black is Beautiful "movement:"

From the color of my skin, to the texture of my hair
From the length of my strands, to the breadth of my smile

To the stride of my gait, to the span of my arms, to the depth
of my bosom, or the curve of my hips, to the glow of my skin
My black is beautiful

It cannot be denied. It will not be contained.
And only I will define it. SOURCE

Of course, I'd like it more if it wasn't, like Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, tied to commerce. So, P&G loves them some black women. They'll love us even more if we buy new Cover Girl Wetslicks Fruit Spritzers Lipgloss, because we think that they love us more than Loreal or Revlon. And, yes, I know that the marketing director who developed the campaign is a sister, Najoh Tita Reid, who says she was inspired by her own confrontations with non-acceptance of black beauty growing up. (Interview with Reid) But I'm a black marketing director, too. And I know for-profit companies don't develop advertising to be altruistic.

Here's my other beef. Take a look at the video of black women reciting the My Black is Beautiful manifesto. Powerful, yes. But all of the women, except two, seem to be masking their natural hair texture behind chemicals or weave. Can you love your black beauty, except for the naps? Now, I believe in everyone's right to make their own style choices. But if you're running to the salon every four to six weeks to sit for hours and spend hundreds so your natural hair texture doesn't show...if you hate water more than the Wicked Witch of the West, cause it makes your hair "go back"...if you don't believe that your real hair is as beautiful, professional and easy to maintain as that of women with naturally straight hair, well..."From the color of my skin, to the texture of my hair" indeed.

Look, I know that P&G's campaign will help some black women. As part of the campaign, the company awards $50,000 grants to community-based organizations "dedicated to the health, education and empowerment of African-American girls." Recipients include the W.E.B. Dubois Society, GirlSpirit-Women Song Inc., and Urban Academy.

I accept the lovely, empowering words of the My Black is Beautiful manifesto. I am happy that some useful organizations will receive funds to do good work. I just think that sometimes it's smart to look a gift horse in the mouth, so you are fully aware of the intentions behind the gift and its true meaning.

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