Dove’s new campaign highlights the extent and impacts of race-based hair discrimination.
Dove UK launched its new campaign “Reclaiming School Picture Day” on Oct. 4, featuring women who experienced race-based hair discrimination when they were younger and how it impacted them back then, and the trauma they still have from their experiences. Within the campaign video, Dove UK allowed these women to retake their school picture and show off their natural hair.
“Reclaiming School Picture Day” began because of Dove UK’s research. According to Dove,
“nearly half of Black or mixed-race women with afro or textured hair have experienced race-based hair discrimination” with some women experiencing discrimination when they were only 5 years old. At school, more than 50% of Black children were sent home because they wore their hair naturally and 33% of Black and mixed-race women in the UK did not participate in school picture day due to this discrimination.
Stephanie Yeboah, blogger and body image advocate, featured in Dove’s campaign video, where she described her first experience with race-based hair discrimination when she was 5 years old. She said, “I was told to shave off all of my hair because at that school, afro hair was seen as unkempt, unruly, untidy.”
Emma Dabiri, contributing editor at Elle UK and author of Don’t Touch my Hair, also described her challenges in Dove’s campaign video. She said, “Everyday really presented challenges when it came to my hair because it was almost impossible for me to get my hair to conform to uniform policies around appearance and hair.”
In 2019, Dove formed the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) coalition with the National Urban League, Color of Change and the Western Center on Law & Poverty. CROWN’s focus is to pass the CROWN Act, a law banning discrimination based on hair style and texture.
California was the first state to pass the CROWN Act in July 2019. Since then, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, New Mexico, Nevada, Nebraska, Oregon, Illinois, Maine and Tennessee have passed the CROWN Act in their respective state. On the federal level, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act in March 2022 and it is waiting to be passed in the U.S. Senate.
Dove’s new “Reclaiming School Picture Day” campaign has brought back attention to race-based hair discrimination, an issue that affects women of all ages in the UK, the US and beyond. Instances of this discrimination can have lasting impacts on women including trauma, lowered self-esteem and affects on their experiences at school and work. The CROWN Act targets hair-based discrimination to prohibit it from affecting more women. If you are interested in advancing this legislation in your state and in the Senate, be sure to contact your local state government representatives and your state’s senators.