Remember that Lexus commercial with a wide shot of rolling hills, with just an empty road and no car? Or how about that inspiring Crest commercial with a grouchy old man who refused to smile. No? What about that Red Lobster commercial with glamor shots of forks, spoons, and the spotless kitchen. Wait, are you saying advertisements for a product usually feature that which the ad is selling?
Someone tell L’Oreal, whose new hair campaign model is covering her hair with a hijab.
L’Oreal has become the first major international brand to cast a woman in a hijab in a hair campaign, explaining that hair care is of interest to everyone, whether you choose to show your hair in public, or not.
Blogger and model Amena Khan, who also worked with the French brand on their 2017 collaboration with The Prince’s Trust, wrote on her Instagram that this was a “game changing” new project.
“You have to wonder – why is it presumed that women that don’t show their hair don’t look after it,” Khan said in an interview with Vogue magazine.
As stated at the outset, advertisements feature that which they’re advertising. The reason you see women with airbrushed, “flawless” skin in a Neutrogena commercial is because Neutrogena is trying to sell the idea their product makes your skin flawless. Flip through a beauty magazine, you’ll find perfume advertisements include the actual perfume, no imagination required. BMW commercials feature throaty sports cars, convincing self-important douches the promise of turned heads. Or, depending on how said douche drives, farts in their general direction.
Hair care product companies always feature healthy hair. Long, flowing, shiny. Full of volume. This hijab ad features no hair at all.
L’Oreal isn’t selling a hair product with this new ad. You, of course, already knew that. They’re selling social justice activism. They’re selling “Look at how progressive we are as a company, now we’re featuring a Muslim woman who covers her hair. We’re all inclusive. Buy our product to feel good about yourself, you woke Millennial, you.”
Hey, if L’Oreal wants to feature a woman covering her hair for a hair product, that’s their prerogative. If they want to further this inclusivity idea, their next hair care advertisement can feature a bald woman. Bald women care for their head too. How dare you assume otherwise.
Next I want to see a jeans company advertise to people who work from home, wearing sweat pants all day. People who work from home care about their jeans stuffed in their drawers just as much as size double-zero models who forget to wear shirts. Stop making unwarranted assumptions.
My only advice to L’Oreal is to take their research two steps further. The model, Amena Kahn, hates Israel (shock) and blames the tiny country in the heavily Islamic region, as responsible for all the tension in that region. Isn’t she a peach?
Lastly the hijab itself. Long, shiny, flowing hear is a signifier of good health (it’s one reason men love women with pretty hair). The hijab is also a signifier: it represents the female oppression in Islam. Yes, yes, women are free to wear head-coverings or not (in America). Choices: ladies have them here. But in the Middle East, the hijab isn’t optional in countries like Iran or Iraq. Ergo it’s a symbol of female oppression. Of which the patriarchy approves. L’Oreal just glamorized it. By glamorizing it, they’re approving it. So L’Oreal just approved of female oppression.
L’Oreal: Because you’re worth beautifying, so your husband can beat you ugly (suggested new tagline).