Inclusive beauty: working to end race-based hair discrimination
We want inclusive beauty. All beauty should be recognised and welcomed in schools, at work, and everywhere else. Narrow beauty standards make it difficult for women and girls to freely express and celebrate their own beauty. And while all women experience appearance-based pressures, Black and mixed-race women are disproportionately impacted by the Eurocentric beauty standards that so often define what’s seen as beautiful.
Societal bias has created unfair judgement and discrimination against Black women, based on hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locks and twists. Crucially, there is a substantial economic impact associated with this level of discrimination as Black women are held back in education and careers through social exclusion.
Did you know…
- Nearly half of Black or mixed-race women with afro or textured hair have experienced race based-hair discrimination, sometimes as early as age five**
- 1 in 4 of Black adults have been sent home from work or faced disciplinary action as a result of wearing their hair in a natural or protective style*
- More than half of Black children have been sent home from school due to wearing their hair naturally or in a protective style*
Recent research by Dove also uncovered that one third of Black and mixed-race UK women missed the childhood milestone of school picture day as a result of race-based hair discrimination.
Reclaiming School Picture Day
To raise wider awareness of the issue, Dove has launched Reclaiming School Picture Day, a campaign which sees Black and mixed-race women who either missed having their school picture taken or felt the need to alter their natural appearance, the chance to take a new picture with their hair as they have chosen, reflecting their most authentic selves.
Taking action to help end race-based hair discrimination
The situation around race-based hair discrimination in the UK is complex. Racial discrimination is already illegal under the Equalities Act 2010 and enforced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). However, there are still significant barriers around understanding and implementation.
In 2020, we were proud to be the first brand to sign the Halo Code – the UK’s first Black hair code for schools and the workplace. Founded by the Advocacy Academy, the code was created to protect the rights of staff and students with natural hair and protective hairstyles, giving Black people the freedom and security to wear their hair without judgement.
Shortly after in 2021, we launched The CROWN UK Fund to accelerate our work to help eradicate race-based hair discrimination and campaign for legislative change in the UK. The CROWN Fund invested £170,000 in Black-led grassroots organisations with the aim to eliminate barriers to progress for women and girls in the Black community, empower the next generation, and drive long-term systemic change.
In late 2021, alongside other like-minded individuals and organisations, we partnered with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Race Equality in Education to co-sign a letter requesting the Equality and Human Rights Commission to do more to eradicate Afro hair discrimination. We have also invested in raising awareness of the issue through co-funding the Channel 4 documentary Hair Power: Me and My Afro as well as being an advertising partner for Channel 4’s inaugural Black to Front initiative.
Through the Dove Self-Esteem Project, we’re committed to designing self-esteem tools and experiences with unique cultural nuances in mind. Which is why we launched My Hair, My Crown – a two-hour session for educators, parents, and mentors to boost hair confidence in kids with coils, curls, waves and protective styles – and to build allyship in others to create a respectful and open world for natural hair.
Dove Partners Emma Dabiri and Zina Alfa have both created petitions to make hair discrimination illegal under the UK Equalities Act. Add your signature now.
Join us in creating real change that will enable Black and mixed-race women and girls to fully express and celebrate their natural hair and Afrocentric beauty – without judgement.
Hair discrimination is unacceptable – at school, at work and in all areas of life. Together, we can help end race-based hair discrimination today.
* Research was conducted by One Poll on behalf of Dove, surveying 500 Black adults (men and women, 18+) and 500 Black pre-teens / teens (girls and boys 11-18 years old) in England and Wales from 12/10/20 - 23/10/20
**Research conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Dove UK in August 2022, with results secured from 2,000 UK women aged 18-55+, with 1,038 from Black or mixed-race women.