Dove's heartbreaking ad highlights race-based hair discrimination against girls

Brand's latest Crown Coalition study finds that girls as young as five face bias because of their hairstyles

Published On
Jan 26, 2022

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A new study from Unilever’s Dove has uncovered startling findings with respect to Black girls—from as early as the age of five, they experience hair-based discrimination at schools. That statistic comes to life in a heart-tugging new spot from Ogilvy and Swift. 

The ad follows one young woman’s hair journey through the years, opening on a scene of her as a girl. As she playfully styles her father's 'do at home, we hear her voiceover saying, "My dad always told me that I should love my hair."

The spot then cuts to the girl arriving at school, only to be turned away because her hairstyle doesn’t fit into the “strict hair policy.” In high school, her teacher cautions her against wearing braids during graduation, and as a young adult, she bolts out of a job interview when she sees that her bantu knots fall into the “banned” hairstyles at the company.

It ends on an uplifting note, however, with the young girl’s voiceover saying, “My dad always told me I should fight for my hair. So I am.”

The spot is the latest in Dove’s efforts supporting The Crown Coalition, the organization it established in 2019 alongside National Urban League, Color of Change and the Center of Western Law and Poverty in an effort to end race-based hair discrimination. 

The new research, “Dove 2021 Crown Research Study for Girls,” found that 53% of Black mothers said their daughters experienced hair discrimination. Some of those experiences began as early as the age of five. The study also found that approximately 86% of Black teens who endured hair discrimination did so by the age of 12, while 100% of Black elementary school girls in majority-white schools who said they experienced hair bias said they did so by the age of 10. 

Dove had co-founded The Crown Coalition following its previous research that uncovered how Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hairstyles. It also found that Black women were 80% more likely to change their natural hair to “fit” into their workplace. 

Since its founding, The Crown Coalition has been fighting to pass The Crown Act, local and federal legislation demanding protection against such discrimination at work and in schools. Currently, only 14 states (CA, CT, CO, DE, IL, MD, NE, NM, OR, NY, NJ, NV, VA, WA) and 34 municipalities have laws against race-based hair discrimination.

As part of its inclusive hair efforts, Dove also recently debuted its new “Hair Love” line of products. It was inspired by the Oscar-winning and Dove-backed short created by filmmaker Matthew Cherry, a Crown Act advocate.

Read: Dove's new hair-care line was inspired by an Oscar-winning film.

“This new body of research illuminates the pervasive nature and deep impact hair discrimination has on Black girls highlighting the horrific multi-generational impact of narrow beauty standards in America,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, EVP and chief operating officer Unilever North America, in a statement. “These biases continue to perpetuate unfair scrutiny and discrimination against Black women and girls for wearing hairstyles inherent to our culture. This is unacceptable and why it is imperative that everyone join the movement to make hair discrimination illegal nationwide through the passage of The Crown Act.”

Consumers can sign a petition and see more information on The Crown Act at