BLOG - Since the news broke on Friday that a certain shampoo will give you flowing blonde tresses, I have been washing my hair twice a day, but to no avail... I am still a brunette. Definitely not normal. Not I, not the ad.
The much-maligned ad depicting a white woman's light hair as "normal hair" has caused hair-raising outrage across the board and given the Red Brigade cause to don their hats and take the country's Clicks stores by storm.
In an historic context I understand the sensitivity surrounding the online advertisement, but also believe that South Africans and the entire human race should toughen up. We all know, or should know, that the term "normal hair" in the beauty industry means "healthy hair".
It was an unfortunate business to compare the images of women who could be perceived to be part of the Aryan race with those of black women - and the creators of the advertisement now realise this all too well - but to brand it racist is over the top. At most it was insensitive and stupid.
And that is my point. When have we humans become so touchy? Why is the tiniest detail of everything dissected for the slightest whiff of a possible affront and then blown out of all proportion? Globally people look (and actively search) for individual, race or group slights on each and every level.
People should man up (now many female readers are beginning to frown) and learn to take things on the chin (only figuratively speaking). The Malemas of the world will always look for topics to use for their own political gain, but reasonable people should accept that humans are just that - human. And humans make mistakes. We are not perfect and tend to put our feet in our mouths and often end up with egg on the face.
This is planet earth, not heaven, and making an honest mistake is not a cardinal sin. Unless you can prove that someone deliberately aimed to cause psychological or physical damage, we should be able to cope with hurt feelings and the occasional slight.
One day in Grade 9 (then standard 7) I was very upset because a teacher had pointed out in class that I had a large nose (she did not mean it as a compliment). That afternoon I sought sympathy from my maternal grandfather, who taught me a valuable lesson: "The only thing worse than a person with too much self-esteem is a person with too little."
Both my teacher and I had low self-esteem. That's why she felt the need to cruelly insult my physical appearance and why her remark had the power to hit home. If I had more self-worth I would have corrected her with, "Roman nose, not big nose, miss".
We all know that we tend to avoid those who force us to walk on eggs. Counting and recounting every word that exits the mouth is tiresome and inhibits open, honest debate. Ask Helen Zille!
A few last thoughts on the shampoo advert, as it was indeed stupid. Two employees have been suspended. I want to know how their ad got past their creative director? Is it possible that the two employees are merely colour blind, truly non-racist millennials who are simply out of touch with the complexities of our society and actually have high self-esteem and hence are insensitive to "hair issues"?
And lastly, if the pic depicting "normal hair" was one of an Indian woman with beautiful long pitch black hair, would the advert still be seen as racist? According to many websites Indian virgin hair is one of the best choices for long-running natural-looking hair extensions.
We should stop being so sensitive. We should learn how to swallow an insult. Our feelings are always going to get hurt.
White people cope daily with being branded racist - just because they are white.
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