Nikita Richardson
April 07, 2016 11:55 am
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It’s standard practice for drugstores and retailers to separate beauty products by brand — Garnier here, Pantene there — but few may notice that beauty products are also separated by “race,” so to speak, with products for black women often kept completely separate from other big brands.

SheaMoisture is one such brand. Though it sells millions in products each year to black women throughout the United States and is found in CVS, Target, and Walmart, many of its products are set away from mainstream beauty products. But for its first TV ad in its 104-year history, the company is putting an end to this practice and this week launched #BreakTheWalls, a campaign announcing that it will no longer be found in a separate section, but in the main beauty aisle.

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“I have often said over the last 20 years that the beauty aisle is the last place in America where segregation is still legal,” Richard Dennis, CEO of SheaMoisture parent company Sundial Brands, told Essence.com. “And separating ‘beauty’ from ‘ethnic’ has only served to further perpetuate narrow standards of what is considered beautiful in our industry and our society—which is why we began leading the efforts to break down those walls.”

The moving 60-second video features black women detailing their experiences with beauty aisle segregation. “There is a section called ‘ethnic’ and an aisle called ‘beauty,’” says one woman in voiceover while another walks nervously through the non-ethnic beauty aisle. “Do I feel like I’m beautiful? Is ‘ethnic’ not beautiful?”

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As the actress advances down the aisle, the walls separating ethnic products from mainstream products begin to fall, spilling bottles of shampoo and condition on the ground.

“This movement is about so much more than selling shampoo, or lotion, or cosmetics,” says Dennis. “We’re advancing a mission and vision to change the social dialogue about how we’re looking at beauty as a society and how those archaic structures and views are debilitating to the establishment of new and more inclusive ways of viewing beauty – whether in the images we see or in the aisles that divide.”

Check out the entire ad below:

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