Hair­care and beau­ty com­pa­ny Nivea is under fire for this face and body shav­ing prod­uct ad, show­ing a black man toss­ing his for­mer face with fro and facial hair beside the cap­tion “Look Like You Give a Damn” and “Re-civ­i­lize Your­self.”

This ad is an epic fail, not only for its mes­sage. But it’s… awk­ward­ness. A dude throw­ing his face? Real­ly?? But I’ll stop here… cuz I know the com­ment box will be ablaze in 5… 4… 3… 2…

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­liste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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130 Comments on "Beauty Company Nivea says “Look Like You Give a Damn”, Cut Off Your Fro"

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Robin Nicole


Real­ly Nivea?

I hap­pen to adore men with beards. I even have a beard blog, but not 1 fuck is giv­en when it comes to the media (black bash­ing ads/articles) these days. 

Not 1.

I don’t have the time or ener­gy to give.

Teresa King

WOW! I’m speech­less! What per­son on their mar­ket­ing team thought this was a good idea? I hope some­one got fired for this cause they just lost my busi­ness.


It might not mean to, but you can­not deny that it has racial­ly offen­sive con­no­ta­tions. the peo­ple behind the ad prob­a­bly just felt like they were doing some­thing right using a black mod­el, but per­haps they should have seen this com­ing.…

the ad in gen­er­al is not exact­ly the epit­o­me of taste, but they cer­tain­ly could have word­ed it a lot bet­ter.

I’m kind of feel­ing that fro though. I must like “unciv­i­lized” guys. the beard could do with a lit­tle trimming…beard rash *shud­der* i digress.…




here, i’ll help you under­stand why things play out like this: there just aren’t that many black folks in mar­ket­ing and adver­tis­ing and no one thinks broad­ly enough to con­sid­er the pos­si­bil­i­ty that a cam­paign might hit a sen­si­tive spot.

I’ve talked to sev­er­al peo­ple today about this ad, and all of them have told me that they think my anger is an over­re­ac­tion. “They didn’t mean it like THAT”. I would be inclined to give this bs the ben­e­fit of the doubt if Amer­i­ca wasn’t still such a racist coun­try (that’s right, I said it). This isn’t the first time that black­ness and nat­ur­al black char­ac­ter­is­tics have been posed as the default neg­a­tive. There are count­less exam­ples, in adver­tis­ing and in day-to-day life. And as as peo­ple try to tell us to ‘stop over­re­act­ing’, it def­i­nite­ly won’t be the last.… Read more »

preach! you took the words right out of my mouth!!!!

mj labonte

+1 thank you


I wish the like fea­ture was still active on this site…but I’ll just set­tle for say­ing +1


I think it’s offen­sive, but not nec­es­sar­i­ly racial­ly offen­sive. I don’t like the impli­ca­tion that if a man grows his hair or beard out, it means he doesn’t “give a damn” or that he’s “unciv­i­lized”. You can advo­cate shav­ing with­out insult­ing those who choose not to.






two words: oh wow.

If it weren’t for all the hub­bub, I wouldn’t have any idea of what the prob­lem is here. Yeah, I see that the ad could be imply­ing that afros sig­ni­fy unciv­i­lized. And yes, I get why peo­ple think it’s a bit racist, but I think we’re all over­re­act­ing. The mes­sage of this ad is to show a guy who has “let him­self go.” Long hair (like he hasn’t both­ered to get a hair­cut in months) & an unruly beard & mus­tache (like he hasn’t both­ered to shave in weeks). It just so hap­pens that the hair that grows out of his… Read more »

White peo­ple are not sys­tem­i­cal­ly berat­ed for their nat­ur­al fea­tures (includ­ing their hair) the way black peo­ple are. Red­heads aren’t tar­get­ed by a bil­lion dol­lar indus­try to dye their hair any col­or that’s not red.


My point EXACTLY. Well said.


This is one of those things that can be offen­sive to any race. It wasn’t wise when it comes to black peo­ple to han­dle it in this way rather the intent was racism or not.

first of, there is NOTHING wrong with a fro. It is not unkept or dirty or greasy. it’s is nat­ur­al and long hair (only curly) and it takes a lot of effort to main­tain. This is just like hav­ing long hair (if your hair was straight). To say that you should cut your hair to be con­sid­ered civ­i­lized is like say­ing women should have short hair to be con­sid­ered pro­fes­sion­al. That is sex­ist, this is racist. Peo­ple with curly hair should be able to wear it long and nat­ur­al (or not) if they so choose. Just like peo­ple with straight… Read more »

Hi TK, I’m not say­ing that I agree with the mes­sage in this ad. The mes­sage is (in not so many words) fucked up & stu­pid.

I just don’t think that the sole mes­sage of this ad was meant to be racist or attack­ing towards black peo­ple.

Ev’Yan, I total­ly agree with you. Nivea is pro­mot­ing a par­tic­u­lar idea of what “groomed” means for a man, whether that man is black or white or brown. Most cos­met­ics com­pa­nies that cater to men pro­mote the same thing (shaven, short­ish hair) to white peo­ple, as well as black. I am sure that there is a ver­sion of this ad with the exact same tag-line and a smooth-faced, short-haired white guy hold­ing a white head that’s got long hair and a beard. I don’t think that this ad should be read as a spe­cif­ic racial state­ment that black men who… Read more »

Actu­al­ly, after doing some research, there is an ad with a white guy hold­ing a head in the same man­ner. But the slo­gans are not the same what­so­ev­er. There is no “Look like you give a damn” and cer­tain­ly no “Re-civ­i­lize your­self”. It says “Sin City is not an excuse to look like this”, which I’m guess­ing is a play off the char­ac­ter in The Hang­over??

So no, it’s not the same.


Total­ly agree. 

The ad would have been fine BUT if you look at the oth­er ads of the type NONE said “re-civ­i­lize yourself”..only the one with the solo black man throw­ing away his GOD GIVEN head of hair as it nat­ur­al grows from his he’s some Nean­derthal.

I find it racial­ly insen­si­tive. Come on, this is Amer­i­can. They know bet­ter than to print this trash!

Leonie UK
Fun­ny enough come Novem­ber a world wide char­i­ty called ‘Movem­ber’ will be get­ting guys to not cut their hair and beards for the month, to sup­port aware­ness of tes­tic­u­lar can­cer. Short­ly after­wards you see adds like this to get the guys to get all civ­i­lized. I don’t think it’s a race thing, sor­ry but I read mens mags more than wom­ens, and it’s all about them look­ing as clean cut as poss­abile. I actu­al­ly hand­ed a Black guy in my work place a simalar advert the oth­er day and told him to “man up and get sort­ed”. It’s not that… Read more »
Amma Mama



And who are the idiot black peo­ple that keep sign­ing up for these things?

Molly B

I was think­ing the same thing! This man mus­ta been hel­la des­per­ate for some cash to actu­al­ly con­sid­er agree­ing to do this fool­ish­ness.


What in the tom­fool­ery decap­i­tat­ing hell is this?


/Michael Jack­son king of pop­corn .gif


Once again I’m remind­ed of the dif­fer­ence between the online nat­ur­al hair com­mu­ni­ty and the rest of the world…

I’d bet part of my minis­cule pay­check that not only do most black peo­ple NOT have a prob­lem with this ad, it prob­a­bly went by at least one black per­son some­where in the devel­op­ment chain before it went out.

Sub­sti­tute the broth­er with a dif­fer­ent-raced per­son with loos­er-tex­tured hair…who reacts? How do they react?

I pick my bat­tles these days…and this is one I’m not touch­ing…


Im not so sure this one is a nat­ur­al hair com­mu­ni­ty thing. I’ve seen it all over the net., CNN, Forbes just to name a few.


Cue the essen­tial­iz­ing of one’s own opin­ion and the blam­ing of Blacks of racial hyper­sen­tiv­i­ty in 5…4…3…2..AND


Thank you eme!

To LBell, your reac­tion is jus­ti­fied and mature yet those of oth­ers who have an oppo­site reac­tion aren’t well-thought out, mea­sured and legit­i­mate? There’s room for everyone’s opin­ions and thoughts with­out com­part­men­tal­iz­ing oth­ers as hys­ter­i­cal. Like you said, choose your own bat­tles, but DON’T berate oth­ers!


Thank YOU!!!!


I agree LBell.


@ Naeema exact­ly! This ad offends me for many dif­fer­ent rea­sons. Besides it being offen­sive, it is just a hor­ri­ble adver­tise­ment. In what world would some­one hold­ing a sev­ered head make peo­ple want to buy lotions and shav­ing prod­ucts?




This reflects the igno­rance that hap­pens when adver­tis­ing firms fail to diver­si­fy their work­force, then attempt to mar­ket to a group of peo­ple they know NOTHING about. The least they could have done was pilot test this ad with a group of black men/women. Shows their lack of con­cern for our cul­tur­al nuances, our val­ues or even the chang­ing per­cep­tion of beau­ty. How out of touch…how IGNORANT!

(Nivea is full of harsh chem­i­cals anyway…stopped buy­ing that mess years ago!)

What adver­tis­ing firms need to real­ize when it comes to dif­fer­ent eth­nic groups, nation­al­i­ties, and races there are just cer­tain images and words you SHOULD NOT put togeth­er. That’s the real­i­ty. It’s not about being polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect. It’s not about “cen­sor­ing”. We all have our his­to­ry with racism and what “our peo­ple” were tor­ment­ed about. No mat­ter how cute Curi­ous George the mon­key looks, you cant say a cute black kid with round cheeks and big ears reminds you of him— even if he real­ly does! You will get the side eye, and the par­ents will feel uncom­fort­able. You can’t put… Read more »

Even if it were a white man in the ad, I’d still find it in poor taste. A guy hold­ing what appears to be a sev­ered head, about to fling it like a grue­some track meet event? Bleah. But they made it a black man and now you’ve got — hel­lo, head­hunters out of a bad 40s com­e­dy movie? ::head­desk:: Fail on so many lev­els.


There IS an equiv­a­lent advert with a white man but with­out the words uncivilized…HA!!! Sor­ry but this is bla­tant racism.


“If they real­ly want­ed to tar­get afro-tex­tured men they should have done a real­ly messy afro that was uneven and used a “shaped” small­er afro.”

As long as they were gonna use a black man any­way, I think a Don King look-alike with close cropped hair, throw­ing a head with Don King’s usu­al “crown”—I use that word extreme­ly loose­ly in his case—would have been per­fect for this. But then, I’ve nev­er liked Don King’s hair.


Oh and you def­i­nite­ly don’t use UNCIVILIZED/CIVILIZED when it comes to black peo­ple or any oth­er peo­ple of col­or.


you know Naeema, I thought about that, then I thought about the mom and dad in the NBC show. It was the black woman that thought her child’s head need­ing tam­ing. What if the per­son respon­si­ble for this ad was African-Amer­i­can? Still out of touch & igno­rant, but diver­si­ty of thought & per­spec­tive may be the real issue.


@ Janelle, you know what? i wouldn’t even be sur­prised if one of the “cre­ative” heads behind this is actu­al­ly Black. I mean, why did the black guy even accept to do the add? this kind of thing is shock­ing and so frus­trat­ing!


Even if it was a black per­son who ini­ti­at­ed the con­cept, that does­nt mean its not a prod­uct of racist thought. We’ve got a lot of years of inter­nal­ized racism to undo (start­ing with “our” peo­ple!) — This ad sim­ply takes us in the wrong direc­tion of that goal.…

You can leave a mes­sage on their web­site I sure did re civ­i­lize your­self fuck out­ta here make a prod­uct that hasn’t been made yet not make old one smell worse with crap ingre­di­ents throw nat­ur­al on it and charge 2x as much where are the inno­va­tors I’m tired of see­ing the same old bull year after year after year and some fools just keep enjoy what’s been already done only we can make change don’t like it dont buy it theyll stop mak­ing it trust me let shit slide they’ll con­tin­ue to make a mock­ery out of us if… Read more »

You said it all. How they failed to notice how racist and igno­rant this ad is is beyond me.

… 1 OMG! My mouth fell open when I saw this! Real­ly?!?! What is going on with these mar­ket­ing ppl. They must be work­ing to offend rather than reach. But to be real, after read­ing the post the oth­er day about top­ics nat­u­rals should move on from, I think this revis­its one of them. Hair in the work place… Hon­est­ly I didn’t agree with all of them, but Ive nev­er been one for unpro­duc­tive argu­ing. And not that we should start but Maybe nat­ur­al hair is seen dif­fer­ent for men than women, for starters. Maybe a fro for a man (and… Read more »

Dont you all see what is going on? Let us not waste our ener­gy protest­ing a com­pa­ny who did this inten­tioma­l­ly to get more pub­lic­i­ty.


+1 and they will no longer get my dol­lars either.


I won’t protest but you sure as heck won’t see me rub­bing their stuff onto my beau­ti­ful black nap­py-haired body. ;)


I don’t like this ad either but it does seem like some of these com­pa­nies are start­ing to do this type of stuff on pur­pose. A lot of peo­ple would prob­a­bly nev­er see or pay atten­tion to any of these ads but they get a lot of atten­tion on blogs and twit­ter. Then after all the out­rage (and every­one has seen the ads & com­pa­ny) the ad is pulled. But it doesn’t mat­ter because we’ve all seen it. Still doesn’t make me want to use their prod­ucts, I just get real­ly annoyed.


WHAT THE?!!??!?!?!?!?!!?! I am sick of this crap! First the talk­ing black vagi­na and now the “unciv­i­lized” fro. Is there anoth­er plan­et, anoth­er coun­try, anoth­er state, heck anoth­er zip code where I can escape this racist white ridicu­lous­ness?!?!?!

Tonya NewNaturalista

I feel you. It’s so insult­ing and hurt­ful — and just plain ridicu­lous.


I actu­al­ly didn’t see too much wrong with the talk­ing vagi­na ad.. it was clear­ly a satire. THIS, how­ev­er is ridicu­lous.. WTH was Nivea think­ing?!?!