Sitting in a hair salon as a stylist braids her pure hair, Sana Sebone remembers a time in 2013 when she labored on a development website and was advised her dreadlocks have been too lengthy and represented a hazard.
- Last Updated: September 14, 2020, 11:12 PM IST
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JOHANNESBURG: Sitting in a hair salon as a stylist braids her pure hair, Sana Sebone remembers a time in 2013 when she labored on a development website and was advised her dreadlocks have been too lengthy and represented a hazard.
She was upset, she mentioned, primarily as a result of her white colleagues with lengthy hair weren’t advised the identical as their hair was thought of “normal”.
Seven years on, that time period is haunting her once more after an advert was launched by TRESemmé, a Unilever model, describing pictures of African Black hair as “frizzy and dull” and “dry and damaged” whereas a white girl’s hair was known as “normal”.
“It really upset me,” mentioned 30-year-old Sebone, who turned to dreadlocks after tiring of straightening her pure hair to make it look “presentable” in others’ eyes.
Unilever has apologised for the advert, which it admitted was “racist”, whereas TRESemmé South Africa and Drugstore Clicks Group, on whose web site the advert was posted, have additionally apologised.
“We are in the year 2020. How ignorant can you be to still think Black women’s natural hair is ugly, is fuzzy and is all those negative words?,” Sebone mentioned on the salon in Midrand, a suburb in northern Johannesburg.
The advert brought on an outcry on social media and sparked protests led by the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters in a rustic the place unfair therapy of individuals primarily based on their hair evokes painful reminiscences of prejudice throughout apartheid, which led to 1994.
In these years, a “pencil test” was used to find out somebody’s racial id: A pencil was inserted into an individual’s hair and if it didn’t fall out, that individual was thought of not white.
“Our forefathers have fought this. Are we still fighting this? When will it end?,” mentioned 48-year-old Nomsa Nyathi as she sat beneath a hair steamer on the salon.
Black hair remains to be policed in locations like colleges, the place Black ladies with pure afros or dreadlocks are typically suspended for not “wearing their hair right” or are requested to straighten their hair.
“Everything about being a Black female in South Africa or even in the world screams ‘You’re not good enough, you don’t fit in here, you’re not wanted here’,” mentioned 42-year-old Ntombenhle Khathwane, founding father of Black hair merchandise model AfroBotanics.
Khathwane herself remembers being advised in highschool that her dreadlocks didn’t align with the varsity’s neatness coverage.
Unilever has pulled all TRESemmé merchandise from South African retail shops for 10 days. Its South African unit has moved to arrange an advisory board and a variety committee.
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