I’ll admit it, I can be really sensitive about anything hair related. I’m not a fan of afro wigs on Halloween or unsolicited touching of natural hair or insensitive remarks about hair texture or type. I am all about celebrating what I’ve been blessed with. Because I love my own hair, I sometimes collect natural hair related items that I think are cool or cute or funny. When I saw the Diva Washing Up Sponge by UK based quirky home décor purveyor Paladone on Fab.com (I tell you I am ADDICTED to that site!) I didn’t think twice. I bought her right away, just to add her to my collection o’ fros.


And now the Diva Washing Up Sponge is sitting on my desk and staring at me impassively as I read about the ongoing UK controversy over her existence.

Via the Daily Mail:

“Campaigners have attacked British makers Paladone for its latest range of dish cleaning products which caricatures black soul legend Diana Ross as having a brillo pad for a hairstyle. The offending items, which have just gone on sale across the UK, have been likened to reproducing golliwogs or the Black and White Minstrels by reinforcing negative stereotypes.

The Unite Against Fascism general secretary Weyman Bennett said: ‘What are we going to have next, toilet brushes like that? ‘This is not appropriate for the 21st century to show images like that. It reinforces negative stereotypes and ideas. Although it’s aimed at being humorous, sometimes it’s not funny.”

Now I feel all conflicted and stuff.


Please note the Diva Washing Up Sponge is part of a complete set – there’s also Disco, Punk and Groovy.


Also, the sponge I bought is called the Diva and not Diana – that’s a whole ‘nother story. Let’s keep Miss Ross out of such affairs.

I bought the Diva Washing Up sponge because I thought she was super cool and I didn’t plan to use her, just to keep her as a fun collectible. Clutch Magazine seems to agree with me – these sponges are more cute than offensive. But I want to know what you think, bellas – does the Diva sponge make you mad? Or not so much?



Kim says:
April 30, 2012, 4:32 pm
I had serious problems with it when I saw it first - It just had some connotations that I did not like. "Black hair is like steel wool" type feelings hit me smack in the face. Now that I see the full line, maybe I am not as offended. Not sure either!
Cate says:
April 30, 2012, 4:33 pm
I definitely get the "fun collectible" aspect, but I think that with the ongoing politics surrounding black hair, it was irresponsible to make this product. It plays on an offensive stereotype, and I think that if it was meant as a collectible, it would be fine. But the fact that it's MEANT to be literally and functionally likened to a brillo pad? That's problematic.
Jaki Dee says:
April 30, 2012, 4:37 pm
Cate, you have put my feelings into words!! Thank you!!
bella says:
April 30, 2012, 4:39 pm
her fro is actually a soft sponge, not a brillo pad per se. I wouldn't describe it as having major scrubbing power. But I do see what you mean. I do
Vera Arellano says:
April 30, 2012, 4:45 pm
Hmmmm. It's like saying, black hair is so nappy, it could scrub your pots. Don't like it at all.
nolagirl says:
April 30, 2012, 5:01 pm
I have no issue with the sponge, the set, or anything. I think " we" as a people let the little things get to us and well this is not a thing. But I do see how others may not like it and not buy it.
Amber says:
April 30, 2012, 5:08 pm
I don't know. Seeing as how it's a part of a set that also includes non-Blacks and features hair other than afros, I can't really say it was designed to be offensive, nor can I say its insensitive. i don't care for the brillo pad/natural hair reference, but I feel sometimes we can be slightly over-sensitive.
Ronii says:
April 30, 2012, 5:43 pm
I'm not offended at all. I think we get a little too sensitive sometimes.
Dee Demby says:
April 30, 2012, 5:51 pm
When I first saw it I was not happy. The first thought that came to mind was “What are they trying to say”. I did not like the perception it can and have generated. Then I saw the full line and I thought to myself okay maybe they did not intend to offend. However, the fact remains that the sponge can spawn a negative interpretation and someone with negative views could use it as an opportunity to; as the article states, reinforce adverse stereotypes, which is not acceptable. Although, now I am questioning that through experience have we become too sensitive to what others may or may not think and/or do.
Daniel says:
April 30, 2012, 6:34 pm
last year a friend brought me something similar which I feel a bit guilty about owning now. It's a bath product which is a woman with soft afro you use to lather in the show or bath. She sits on the side of the bath, the hair bit comes out like a bit soft sponge. The friend brought it for me because I love afro and 70's disco / Blaxploitation movies and thought it would match my taste. The connotation is a bit different to this product they are selling, its not really marketed as like "a diva". I kinda like it as its sweet. I don't know why but I feel weird about using the kitchen 'diva' one, of any of the different types. I don't think you should be scrubbing dishes with a doll on the end, but maybe that's just me ;)
Carmen D says:
April 30, 2012, 7:40 pm
I love it. I bought one and I wear an afro! My hair is nappy and I love every tight curl and kinky knot of it. My hair is strong and thick...Just like me! LOL
Absu says:
May 1, 2012, 12:29 am
Aren't there more important things to get upset about? I never even had the thought of "brillo pad hair" until I read it in the comments and the article. All of this over-sensitivity is obnoxious. Seems people just search for a reason to get up in arms.
CoilsNkinks says:
May 1, 2012, 6:38 am
I'm sort of torn. If it's a sponge then honestly no I'm not offended but if her hair is actually a Brillo pad or suppose to function as one then yes I would consider it insensitive and poorly thought out. Or maybe it was well thought out and the manufactures still decided to go with it...
No Nonsense says:
May 1, 2012, 7:33 am
While viewing it as a set may not seems so offensive, I think it was designed to be so. Think about it! I can't imagine a designer sitting down to design a cleaning product and think Hmmmm what would be cute and sort of novelty? I get it ... a scubber in the image of people's hair, now that cute! Because people's hair is just great a cleaning stuff. No No Bella...I think the designer thought about it snickered at the connotation and just to let it pass designed a whole bunch more to appear innocent. This smells every bit of jackassery to me.
pets says:
May 1, 2012, 2:56 pm
The thing about black hair that everyone should really get upset about is the large number of black women who wear FAKE hair, especially long hair.
PoetrysTruth says:
May 1, 2012, 4:48 pm
I think we are projecting our feelings/issues onto this product. Not once in the description did they mention steel wool but it was assumed it was a scrubbing tool. It's a soft sponge much like any other sponge. I don't have an issue with it especially since it's a part of line of washing tools. I think it's cute.
Jazzy says:
May 2, 2012, 12:32 pm
"Aren’t there more important things to get upset about?" exactly! It's a doll to go along with different eras in music. We get too all up in arms over simple stuff.
cg says:
May 7, 2012, 4:16 pm
I Love the Diva dishwashing sponge... bought two looking for 5 more for girlfriends. As a people we need to stop getting upset about references regarding our looks or heritage. We are who we are Love yourself and appreciate how God made you.
mumtaza says:
May 27, 2012, 6:43 pm
I think it would make doing the dishes more fun but then I think how nasty that sponge would get and it would be an afro full of egg and hot sauce and what not. I think it would only be offensive if kept and used by a bigot. Kids would probably love it. I can see how if you hadn't seen the whole set you might get pissed off.
PastyScot says:
September 15, 2012, 1:03 pm
Wow. I sooo didn't think about this. I'm a pasty Scots girl & when I saw this i thought it was an absolute MUST have for a good friend of mine. She's Black & recently bought her own place. She's complained in the past about not seeing 'herself' reflected in things before - media, dolls/toys, etc. and I go out of my way to find cute little things like this for her. She does the same in return with gifts. I am a Fabulous Fat Girl & although I wouldn't ever compare myself to a person of colour I do understand being marginalized in the media, being the butt of jokes & not seeing many positive images like me, either. It would kill me to think I'd ever offend her. Is this one I should avoid or steer clear of?
brightsol says:
January 7, 2013, 7:17 pm
i have it and love it. its a totally soft spongy thing, not brillo at all and even if it was, so what? i've also had natural hair in various stages of afro and whatnot for over 15 yrs. i think we have many other things to worry about than hair.
Susana says:
July 1, 2013, 8:32 pm
I'm Italian - my kids bought me a disco King as a little present. I just thought How kitsch and funny and useful to clean the non stick frying pan without damaging it because the sponge is SOFT. It honestly NEVER occurred to me that it made any derogative statement about black people, or their hair, or was a stereotype in any way AT ALL.... its now very worn out and I was searching the web to get another because I liked it so much.
J Jones says:
December 7, 2014, 12:12 pm
If anybody has a problem with it, then they must have a chip on their shoulder. Are they saying there's something wrong with 70s, big afro style, but nothing wrong with a beehive or punk?


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