*Dove soap was forced to pull an ad on Sunday after it provoked ire on social media for, what many considered to be, its racist subtext.
Model Lola Ogunyemi, who was featured on the ad, which shows her shedding her skin for that of a white woman’s, penned an essay for The Guardian explaining her cultural and ethnic background and noting that as a young girl, she was frequently told how pretty she was “for a dark-skinned girl.”
Raised in London and Atlanta, but her family is Nigerian, she wrote that she’s also well aware of colorism within the beauty industry. That’s why she was initially excited to be included in Dove’s campaign:
Having the opportunity to represent my dark-skinned sisters in a global beauty brand felt like the perfect way for me to remind the world that we are here, we are beautiful, and more importantly, we are valued.
Then one morning, I woke up to a message from a friend asking if the woman in a post he’d seen was really me. I went online and discovered I had become the unwitting poster child for racist advertising. No lie.
If you Google “racist ad” right now, a picture of my face is the first result. I had been excited to be a part of the commercial and promote the strength and beauty of my race, so for it to be met with widespread outrage was upsetting.
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Dove said it “missed the mark” on this ad showing black model Lola Ogunyemi remove her top to reveal a white woman. pic.twitter.com/OQZhbyRNfi
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 10, 2017
Ogunyemi wrote that had she known her skin color in the ad “would be portrayed as inferior” she would have refused to participate in the campaign.
She also acknowledged that this is not the first time Dove has shaded black woman:
I can see how the snapshots that are circulating the web have been misinterpreted, considering the fact that Dove has faced a backlash in the past for the exact same issue. There is a lack of trust here, and I feel the public was justified in their initial outrage. Having said that, I can also see that a lot has been left out. The narrative has been written without giving consumers context on which to base an informed opinion.
While I agree with Dove’s response to unequivocally apologise for any offense caused, they could have also defended their creative vision, and their choice to include me, an unequivocally dark-skinned black woman, as a face of their campaign. I am not just some silent victim of a mistaken beauty campaign. I am strong, I am beautiful, and I will not be erased.
You can read her full perspective here.