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… 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… 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… 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… 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?!?!