Protests in South Africa Over Hair Commercial


Linnea Fry, Writer

Thousands gather at some of South-Africa’s biggest retail pharmacies, to protest an ad that promoted racist hair stereotypes. 

After two ads were released by TRESemmé in Johannesburg South Africa- one showing a black woman’s hair, labeling it “frizzy and dull”, and another showing blond hair, labeling it “fine and flat” and “ normal hair”, protesters gather in front of several “Clicks” pharmacies. Opponents now say it was racist and insensitive.

The Economic Freedom Fighters -the EFF- are a national political party, and they are the key organizers to the protests. They have succeeded to gather tens of thousands to protest daily against the stereotypes. 425 Clicks stores have been targeted, as well as many prominent people on social media.

“It’s not about the hair, it’s about the dignity of a black person,” said Veronika Mente, the EFF National Chairperson, “It’s not respecting, and is very easy for them to use a black person’s dignity and drag it on the floor, and use it for something that is not proper.”

Some people have taken to the streets, and are burning down the stores, as well as trashing them, instead of peacefully protesting. The CEO of the chain, Vikesh Ramsunder, announced that Clicks will be temporarily closing on Wednesday 9, September 2020, providing counseling and support to all of the store staff, and even closing the majority of the stores during the protest. However, the apologies, store closures, and removal of the ad have done little to quell the protests.

“It is an assertion that white standards of beauty are to be aspired to and features of black represent damage, decay, and abnormality,” said south-African politician Julius Malema, who formed the EFF in 2013. He is now calling for all of the stores to close permanently.

Malema called for a full week of protests, urging even on Twitter: “fellow fighters and ground forces; ATTACK”. Indeed a bit of a strange phrase to say, however bringing in even more protesters to make a change.

Even the current Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi said “Not only is this disrespectful to black lives, but it is also evidence of an absence of representation and diversity within the organization, ” she posted this on her official Twitter account.

With many backing these protests, it leads many to wonder, where will this industry end after this has all served its purpose?