Ogilvy, Wavemaker and World Afro Day have partnered up for a new awareness campaign titled Change the Facts, Not the Fro for World Afro Day 2018. The annual event founded by Michelle De Leona aims to help change the narrative around natural Afro hair. Back on 5th September 2016, a US federal court ruled it legal to ban dreadlocks in the workplace, it’s a ban not faced by any other hair and in turn creates a perpetuated bias against Afro hair. Afro hair is rarely celebrated, whereas straight hair is considered synonymous with success and beauty as seen throughout all elements of mainstream culture from fairytales to consumer products. As a result, World Afro Day has become a global day of change, education and celebration of Afro hair, culture and identity.
The campaign has been brought to life by an international team working across London and Singapore, directed by a core team from Ogilvy’s diversity network Roots, many of whom have experienced similar levels of discrimination that the campaign aims to raise awareness about. Founder Michelle De Leon states that “there is a huge gap in the market for a global celebration of African descent. Our culture, style, music and fashion have been trendsetting for centuries and now it is ‘time’ for our hair to take centre stage too. The story of Afro hair is the same in every language, culture and country. Hair that has been hidden and hurt is now out and proud. Over a billion African people, have been waiting for their ‘time’ and when we throw a party, the world wants to come!”
This year’s campaign challenges how society sees women’s Afro hair and emphasises the importance of celebrating it in its natural glory. Photographed by Derrick Kakembo with hair styled by Charlotte Mensah and produced by The Graft, the communicative infographics assert shocking statistics from The Good Hair study surrounding the stigma women with Afro-hair face daily. For instance, “one in five Black women feel social pressure to straighten their hair for work” and “78% of people instinctively prefer smooth hair”. The campaign calls for change and choice against the scarcely discussed hair bias. This year alone, families have had to take legal action both in the UK and overseas for the right to have their children attend schools with their natural Afro hair, such discrimination causing serious implications for many people’s job prospects, education, not to mention, mental wellbeing.
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