Kohls, We Need To Talk

Every Halloween, something comes along to offend. College co-eds in blackface and politically incorrect costumes are par for the course. But this year the offense and annoyance comes from a totally unexpected source.

Kohls.

Yes, the benign and tame department store has stepped into some hot Halloween mess thanks to the poorly titled and concieved wig they’ve got for sale online.

It’s called the Ghetto Fab Wig. Pause for a second and drink that in. Then read the description:

“Dance the night away in Halloween costume wigs. The disco-inspired Afro style of this adult wig makes it perfect for your festive outfit.”

I’ve been called oversensitive in the past before, because in general I’m not a fan of afro wigs. Because most often, the people I see wearing afro wigs – and dreadlock wigs, let’s not forget about those – are just looking to lampoon naturally textured black hair. And my hair isn’t a joke, a trend, a prop, or a costume. It’s real, it’s special, and it’s beautiful.

I really feel like Kohl’s dropped the ball here. What do you think?

Luvvie went in too! So at least I know I’m not alone in being offended!

PS: BEHOLD the power of the internet! We posted, we complained, and Kohls has responded.

Also, the manufacture of the wigs in question is California Costume Collections – this wig is distributed at many stores for Halloween and you can be “ghetto fab” in brown, black or blonde. SMH. Hopefully the company themselves will recognize that this kind of name is unacceptable.

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Comments

  1. I don’t have a problem with the wig itself, but the name is the ultimate fail! I hope everyone will take the time to tell Kohl’s how they feel about this.

  2. Bella.. you are NOT alone in being offended.. WTFudge.. this is absolutely ridiculous.. I’m HOT right now..

  3. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really get the natural hair thing, but it’s never something that I’ve had to deal with, so of course, I can’t know what it’s like to have a racial trait which flies in the face of the common, blonde, Barbie hair image and how that effects people.

    I will say, however, that it seems like a stupid move. Not because I disagree with Disco/afro wigs in the first place, but because it isn’t one. It looks like a perfectly nice hairstyle that I see on plenty of modern women today. If they were going for Halloween costume, you’d think they’d have exaggerated massively and actually met the stereotype, instead of picking a classy woman’s hair and calling it a “ghetto fab” Halloween costume.

  4. I’m offended. Why couldn’t they just call it an afro wig and be done with it? I don’t mind afro wigs, even for costume wear, but sheesh!

  5. I Love this post! And I agreed, whenever I’ve worn a Afro Puff or Afro Wig, I was very serious about it and it wasn’t for laughs or tricks and treats! So I guess in 2010 our hair is still a joke to a lot of people! That’s why the natural movement is so important, so they know that we are not joking around. Thanks for posting this Afrobella!

  6. I don’t ever want to hear that we are in a “Post-Racial America”. you mean to tell me, that the way my hair naturally falls on my head is the foundation for a “ghetto fab” wig? I am so disgusted! I wouldn’t be surprised if a black person on staff is who named the wig “ghetto fab”. we need to do better. I am in shock!

  7. We should all be offended! My hair is not ghetto, nor my daughter’s hair, nor my friend’s hair (you get my point) Below is the definition of ghetto as found in the Urban Dictionary online…Explain to me how that word exemplifies my beautiful fro!
    1. (n.) an impoverished, neglected, or otherwise disadvantaged residential area of a city, usually troubled by a disproportionately large amount of crime 2. (adj.) urban; of or relating to (inner) city life 3. (adj.) poor; of or relating to the poor life 4. (adj.) jury-rigged, improvised, or home-made (usually with extremely cheap or sub-standard components), yet still deserving of an odd sense of respect from ghetto dwellers and non-ghetto dwellers alike

  8. NO they are wrong. It says too much & reveals a culture of insensitive corporate thinking.

  9. In general I think Kohls fails at most things – but I can totally hear the effed up marketing conversation that led to this particular fail. Keep in mind that most of those in charge of this type of thing look like me. And I have noticed that in my world there is still the whole “white women who want to be a little more black, cause they think it makes them sexier…” mentality. I happen to think all women have the innate ability to own their sexiness and we don’t need to adopt any one elses style to do it… BUT… It seems that I keep hearing about “black hair” a lot recently from white women. They want it, but can’t have it. You can’t go buy a perm and get a natural. Just doesn’t work. I have even heard white women say “It’s not fair, they can straighten their hair to look like ours, but we can’t get that curl.” It makes me shudder.

    So now – put this mentality into a marketing meeting and you get “ghetto fabulous.” They couldn’t just say fabulous – and why they think they can say ghetto is beyond me. But that is the translation.

  10. I’m not mad at the wig, I actually think it’s kind of cute but who selected that name and why? It’s just an afro but, but why the need for the “ghetto” part?

    Kohl’s, you got some ‘splaining to do!

    • Right…I’m not mad at the actual wig because it’s cute. BUT the name has to go. and although they pulled the wig, the pic and the name are STILL there!

      Girl……BYE!!

  11. Ugh, hate the name for the wig. I saw an article on another website about it and it wasn’t just Kohls. I think it’s the same wig (and same name) that other online retailers sell. Why does it have to be a “ghetto fab” wig?! So anyone with naturally curly hair that looks similar to that has “ghetto fab” hair?

  12. No, you’re not alone. The name is all wrong. And there’s nothing funny or amusing about it.

  13. KhamilianMUA says:

    Dumb name. While there are many ghettos…the slang term they have chosen leads the consumer to think the black ghetto. Last time I checked there were VERY FEW women of color in the ghetto even doing natural hair…and if you do see a few…it definitely wasn’t a ‘Fro.

    I too take no offense in the wig (having recently transitioned from having a Fuchsia ‘FRO)…they would have done better just calling it a “70′s Disco wig”.

    That’s what they used to call them in Halloween’s past.

  14. A Foxy Cleopatra wig? Yes. GHETTO FAB????! No way. This is not right.

  15. No, you’re not alone. The name is all wrong. There’s nothing funny or amusing about it.

  16. I don’t mind afro wigs for 70′s themed parties because afros were emblematic of that time, not just emblematic of black people. But calling it a ghetto wig is where they went wrong. I wonder how many people if any had to give final approval to this verbiage.

  17. I’m not that crazy about Kohl’s to begin with but this just not helping. So this is what passes as ok with them? Who in their corporation or PR department, thought this was an acceptable wording???? MY hair, OUR hair, is not something you can disrespect like that. Show us the respect that we have earned Kohl’s!

  18. ugh. idiots. I don’t really “get” the whole afro wig and dreadlock hat thing but it doesn’t mess with me either. I could see how it can be viewed as someone’s hair being considered a joke.

    Now this ghetto fab business is all kinds of wrong on so many levels.

  19. I’m not sure Kohl’s is to blame… their only fault is choosing to feature this product on their site, however if you google “ghetto fab wig” you’ll see that a wide variety of sites carry this wig. So the real blame would be to whatever wig/costume manufacturer thought this name was appropriate in marketing this wig as such.

  20. Not feeling this at all. When I went natural I didn’t think people would have such a negative reaction to something that comes out of my head NATURALLY. Why does that make me ghetto? Yeah it’s fabulous, but ghetto? I live in the suburbs. Dare I say, boycott?

  21. Had to stop for a minute and comment…Have you written to them directly? You have every right to be offended. First of all, I don’t like the term “Ghetto Fab” to begin with. And secondly, what good do they really think it’s going to do when someone shows up at a party wearing that wig? Is the goal to get people to laugh? Why? Why should we be laughing at that? And if it’s supposed to be Fab, why is it a costume? Why, why, why? This is the kind of thing that indirectly propagates hate speech and discrimination. FAIL.

  22. Agreeing with everyone else, it’s the name that’s offensive. About to shoot them a letter right now:

    Corporate Headquarters
    Kohl’s Department Stores
    N56 W17000 Ridgewood Drive
    Menomonee Falls, WI 53051 Phone:(262) 703-700

  23. I just don’t understand how these things keep making it by so many people in “corporate” to get to the public. There are always a bazillion meetings held to decide on the smallest things. I find it hard to believe that NOBODY thought this might not be such a good idea. Nobody spoke up to squash this before it was made available to the public? That’s dumb. And sad.

    I don’t take issue with afro or locked wigs unless someone is using them to be offensive (ie college students in black face) but to call this “ghetto fab” is HIGHLY offensive. By anyone’s standards.

  24. Looks like Kohls definitely dropped the ball on this one. In no way, shape or (afro) form is that an afro wig, or should it be called ghetto fabulous!

    I’m so glad we have the recent I Love My Hair skit on Sesame Street and now, Willow Smith’s great Whip My Hair video to denounce such awful claims!!

  25. Oh yes send a letter…that’s one remedy. But another we have under our fingertips. If you know any folks in media we need to use the internet, blogs and send emails to blacks in media. Everyone now! start emailing anyone you know in media. We need an apology on the “ghetto” fab. Just because it is a wig there is a deeper issue here: so a sister with hair that looks like this wig is “ghetto” fab? Give me a break. This is demeaning as hell!

  26. I have no issue with the wig per se, BUT the name of the wigand what it insinuates is so offensive

    • Undeniably believe that which you stetad. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the web the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people consider worries that they plainly don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  27. I have a bad feeling that people will pair this wig with blackface. The

  28. No Nonsense says:

    If Kohl’s got the wig from a manufacturer whose label is “Ghetto Fabulous” then it’s still one of their marketing execs to pull this product and rename it. How about “Foxy Cleopatra”. They would sell the heck out of that one.

  29. It’s also on http://www.amazon.com- Need to find the costume manufacturer.

  30. That’s right No Nonsense Kohl’s has a choice whether to purchase this wig and sell it. I guess they don’t care about all of their customers.

    At a politically charged time like this I think it got past marketing because 1) they don’t care about us 2) there are no ‘sensitive’ folks in marketing 3) or they are trying to make some political statement in this climate.

    I’ve decided if they don’t pull this wig I’m not sending my dollars their way.

    End of story for me.

  31. I had no quorums with the wig itself, or the Caucasian woman being the model – it was the name that irked me to no end. I wore my hair in a similar style all last week – and nothing about it rings, “Ghetto.” That was an ultimate fail. A culturally-insensitive and ignorant fail.

  32. Every day I wake up thinking it’s 2010 and then something lets me know that’s it’s actually 1850.

    “Ghetto” is just code for “Black.” And this is just blackface via hair.

    It’s geared to a bunch of drunken white sorority girls if you ask me.

  33. Its not about whether you get the “whole natural hair thing” or not (insert side eye)… because I know relaxed sisters or any person who has common sense would be able to identify the stupidity that is more than obvious. wondering why they picked this manufacturer for afro wigs W/ that name out of all of the other suppliers Im sure they could have bought from.

  34. I did a bit of Google research and it appears that the wig manufacturer, California Costumes, is also at fault. Along with Kohls addressing the issue, the manufacturer should do that same. The name on the packaging needs to be changed. In my opinion, “afro” or “curly afro” would be more appropriate.

    • Agreed!! I am trying to let folks know Kohls didn’t come up with it. The manufacturer – http://www.californiacostumes.com/ – is totally to blame.

      • NoelleArtemis says:

        I stole this from a commenter on Curly Nikki. I contacted California Costumes and left a message for a Mr. Jim Kelly. The company information is here:

        California Costume Collections, Inc.
        210 South Anderson Street
        Los Angeles, CA 90033

        T 323 262-8383
        F 323 262-3561
        E ccc@californiacostumes.com

        • Concerned Naturalist says:

          Found another contact on LinkedIn:

          Shannon Shue, Sales & Marketing for California Costumes (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/shannon-shue/7/827/73a)

          - Job Description: California Costume Collections Inc, the 5th largest Halloween costume manufacturer in the US. At California Costumes, Shannon is responsible for maintaining the company web portals and marketing descriptions on all product; she is also involved with international customers importing finished costumes.

      • I actually have a self-devised template for angry letters to companies. Looks like I need to dust it off…

  35. I just heard about this utter foolishness on Twitter. While, I’m not usually easily offended when I saw the tweets and had to check it out for myself. When I looked at the wig, there is clearly nothing “ghetto fabulous” about it. It’s a basic curly wig, not even an afro as indicated by the description.

    I’ve never shopped at Kohl’s. Unfortunately, I cannot do anything personally to lessen their revenue but I’ll share this with everyone I know so they can see and react for themselves.

    Just when we think times are changing, there’s always something to make us realize things are still the same.

  36. Yayyy!! Hopefully that horrible wig will be no longer sold on their site! I found it completely offensive that my natural hair texture could be considered “Ghetto fab”!!

  37. I first saw this wig at Party City and felt the same way. I ADORE my hair and there is nothing “ghetto” about it (SN: hate how that term is used so casually these days). Way to be a catalyst for change/action Afrobella.

  38. What does Ghetto got to do with the wig? Somebody acted like they knew what they were talking about, but really know nothing. They could have called it a 70′s wig. It was a hairstyle–not culture. I’m offended.

  39. Watch for legalese; per a legal person go to the stores and see if you see them. They only told you “they will put the advertising” which is not the same as saying we will not sell these online or in the stores. Ask any attorney and they can tell you to watch for what isn’t said. I’m glad they are taking the ad down but if I see it sold in a store near me then I will not spend my money there. Caveat Emptor.

  40. Watch for legalese; per a legal person go to the stores and see if you see them. They only told you “they will pull the advertising” which is not the same as saying we will not sell these online or in the stores. Ask any attorney and they can tell you to watch for what isn’t said. I’m glad they are taking the ad down but if I see it sold in a store near me then I will not spend my money there. Caveat Emptor.

  41. NYCBRITPRGIRL says:

    As a PR Girl I cannot believe that their Internal Communications team would endorse or allow this type of “branding” to get to the marketplace. In this day and age it’s simply unacceptable to use the word “ghetto” as if it’s interchangeable.

  42. Glad someone is standing up. This definitely needs to be addressed at the corporate level.

  43. Great post!

  44. I’m white – 100% Irish, & that is MY natural hair texture! Congrats on getting Kohls to notice and remove the wig. It’s a shame because it is pretty, but the name is just awful. I’m offended for you & me both.

  45. This is absolute foolishness. The wig..whatever, but the name of it is insensitive. Get it together Kohls.

  46. I didn’t like the name or the description. It seems someone told Kohl’s about this because you can’t find it our their site any longer. I search under wig and didn’t find that item. Unfortunately, I did find other ridiculousness:
    -a Mr. Hammer wig which should have been called a Mr. T wig
    -a wig called “Shake N’ Fake” which are braids; why can’t it just be called a Braids Wig?

    It seems someone at Kohl’s is out of touch (and I’m saying that to be nice).

  47. Hi all–

    I just want to thank everyone for being so proactive in getting this matter resolved!

    I believe I might have actually been the one who discovered the wig on Kohl’s– a friend and I were browsing the site for halloween costumes a few days ago and found it, and immediately started sending emails, writing facebook and twitter rants, as well as sending news blasts to certain blogs and media outlets.

    Never did my friend and I imagine our efforts would snowball into such an event, but I am glad it did. People need to realize that things like this ARE NOT OKAY. And what message would we be sending if we were silent rather than proactive?

    Waking up Monday morning to see my efforts from the weekend become posts on various blog sites was amazing! Seeing how many people sent emails, wrote reviews and made phone calls made my heart glad. I love that we had pride in ourselves, took some initiative and got things done! Now let’s keep up the momentum and bring about some change!

    Be blessed. x

  48. The ‘ghetto fab’ wig (several of them) is still up at Amazon, along with the ‘HipHop’ wig. Now they have some named Afro puffs, nothing wrong with that. What ignoramus came up with those names?

    How to get over to Amazon to take them down?

    • Here’s a thought to everyone: STOP USING THE WORD “GHETTO” TO DESCRIBE THINGS YOU PERCEIVE AS NEGATIVE AND BLACK.

      STOP using it to refer to Black people in particular and anything related to our various styles, etc. that you disapprove of.

      Now people want to act indignant at someone White using it. CHANGE STARTS AT HOME.

      I don’t understand this generation. Fools.

  49. IMO, the name is where they lost their minds. I have zero problem with afro wigs, generally because I own one. I know to some their natural hair is special and a statement but to others, it’s just a hairstyle. And some people want an afro some days and not on other times, hence wigs. So, I don’t feel some type of way about afro wigs in general. But the name??? Oh that name is ignorant and insensitive as hell. Much like the Rodarte/MAC collection I don’t know how people let this get approved.

  50. In a world where Black women go through great (literal) pains to straighten their hair and thus send the message that their natural hair is “alien,” “unusual,” and “out of the ordinary” — all characteristics of a good Hallowe’en costume — what do we expect?

  51. glad to see they had the sense enough to take it down though, you are correct “the power of the internet”

  52. FaithPeach says:

    “To Arms! To Arms!” I think everyone who takes offense to this bull-ish should just skip on over to Amazon.com and leave a post (you give one star for the worst review) about it. Obviously, this worked with Khols and they took it off, so hey…Amazon should be given the same doseage. Hmm…what if they lost a lot of Black business of this poor choice in marketing? My, my, how would that affect profit? Especially with shopping season around the bend? Perhaps if they follow Khols’ lead in enough time, they can save some money too. HMMMMM.

  53. Woooooooooooooow! I’m stunned. At least they responded.

  54. So afro = ghetto? Ok so we know that Kohl’s isn’t as ignorant as we think since they took it down, but what about the manufacturer.

  55. paintgurl40 says:

    I take offense to this mess!!!!! I agree with you Bella, my hair isn’t a trend, a joke or something to laugh at for Halloween. This is the hair I was born with, this is what God decided to bless me with, and I am proud of it. But you know some people have to make fun of something they’re jealous of…(side eye)

  56. Sis, I am soo proud of you and the activism that Black women, in particular, have been engaged in this week. It’s important for us to take ACTION and to hold people accountable. When we do, it creates the space for healing as well as redemption. As another naturally curly woman, the ad is obviously offensive and I remain thankful that they will have to eat the cost of this silly wig and think again. Much love, as always!

  57. good for you! it could have been called disco wig or something along those lines …. thanks for sharing!

  58. It’s a wig!!!!! Don’t we have something better to do than write about a wig? Hopefully everyone else does. I don’t cause I’m bored at work. My Ex girlfriend has no hair and wears wigs. She has no problem with it or the name. Kohls shouldn’t have to answer to anyone. Especially for a halloween costume.

  59. Yes, this is completely offensive, but yet another example of something that most brush off as harmless fun. However it’s not fun – it degrades a hair texture and reinforces stereotypes and racism. Brushing these kinds of things off as harmless is perhaps the greatest harm. Instead of calling me a ni**%r to my face, just encode racism in other social racism so it can pass as novelty, fun and let’s make some money off of it while we’re at it too!

  60. I too am offended at the name of this wig, and the tendency to use Halloween as an opportunity to blatatly endorse, and make light of, offensive and harmful charecatures and stereotypes.

    I plan on being Janelle monae for halloween. A friend had suggested that I buy some hair to tease in order to get my hair to emulate her distinctive style. Knowing that my aim is only to honor the amazing and fabulous Ms. Monae, I don’t think the idea is offensive. However, I would never want to inadvertently offend or hurt others. I would love to hear peoples’ thoughts and opinions, especially if there are view points to which I am obviously clueless. thanks for any input in advance, and thanks afrobella for keeping up a critical dialogue during a holiday which seems to lack it too often.

  61. BlackHipocrates says:

    Interesting how you only post comments that agree with your post. Afraid of a different point of view?

  62. There is nothing ghetto about our beautiful natural Afro hair. And Halloween, WTF?????

  63. any not ghetto person says:

    Ghetto is bad, the word has nothing to do with being black or white. Anyone can be ghetto. Acting like an arrogant loud disrespectful person in public can be considered ghetto or being rude/inconsiderate or threatening a person or blasting loud music that everyone does not care to hear can be considered ghetto. It’s distasteful or trashy, that’s what ghetto is, not race.

    As far as the whole college kids thing goes, what else do you expect from college kids? They have very stupid immature humor. It’s that ghetto culture that makes it worst when people aren’t thinking but following trends, which has afflicted our whole youth today. So don’t take it personal ladies and gentlemen..

    Also, why is w=this whole race thing still an issue, if we would all just stop talking about it and thinking that we all have something against us, black, white or yellow, whichever you are, then it would go away. Seriously, enough. You(those who choose to debate… and run sites about such topics) all blow it up even more and think you’re entitled to more respect or something.

  64. Sun Child says:

    they are jealous of our hair because it resembles the sun–a halo GOD- therefore they do this…it confirms their unconscious and subconscious insecurities. staight dog hair is seen as beautiful but hair that resembles the lamb–GOD– is degraded. The same applies to our skin color which is copied because people…we ARE Sun Children!!!!

  65. I know this is much later than the actual post, but I feel like I need to say a few things:
    1. I personally love “kinky” curly hair in its natural state. I find it kind of sad how those born with it do not even know how to care for their own hair & embrace it, yet they damage their hair with chemicals & tightly-pulled hair into track braids. So if you’re one of said people, do not try to argue against me, because you just encourage the hate that this “ghetto fab” wig is spreading.

    2. I’ve seen illegal alien costumes with green cards. How many people take offense to THAT, yet PARTY CITY still RETAILS it!? This “ghetto fab” wig is offensive, sure, but you DO realize that “ghetto” represents living standards, like those of the jews pre- & during- holocaust? If the name was simply changed to “curly curls” or something then it would be just fine, am I correct? What about the rainbow clown wig? That was started because “the white man” thought his free-slave was still a mockery of life, & this “racism” was started in children’s parties.
    Oh, what fun!(I hope you all understand sarcasm)

    3. A video I made on youtube was taken down because of supposed “black face” makeup yet another youtuber can go from albino to coal black in a half-assed halloween tutorial. I was demonstrating my cosmetic skills with two models to get them at the mean (average/middle) skin tone, to show that makeup IS a wonderous thing, but some guy can rub coal on his face & call that a halloween makeup tutorial?

    We live in a world of blasphemy.

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