L’Oréal drop first transgender model for a Facebook post calling out white privilege
LGBTQ activists everywhere were jubilant on Wednesday when L'Oréal, the world's largest cosmetics and beauty company made history by announcing that they had hired an openly transgender woman to front their True Match campaign.
The campaign, which was centred around championing diversity brought the brand a great deal of wide-spread acclaim from those who were pleased to see that a transgender individual was finally being lauded as "beautiful" in the mainstream media. However, L'Oréal dropped Munroe Bergdorf this morning following a media storm which saw the model slammed for harbouring supposed "racist" and "anti-white" beliefs after The Daily Mail publicised statements that she had made on Facebook in the aftermath of the violent protests at Charlottesville.
The news publication published details of a Facebook post that Bergdorf had penned after the alt-right rally in Charlottesville, earlier this month. Whilst Bergdorf's original post has since been deleted, The Daily Mail replicated it in its entirety:
"Because most of ya'll don't even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this s***.
Come see me when you realise that racism isn't learned, it's inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege.
Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth… then we can talk.
Until then stay acting shocked about how the world continues to stay f***** at the hands of your ancestors and your heads that remain buried in the sand with hands over your ears."
Following the publication of the article, people took to social media to express their outrage at the 29-year-old's so-called "hateful" remarks, which were quickly branded as being "divisive". "Can't imagine you'll be a spokesperson much longer after your racist Facebook rant," one Twitter user wrote while another said, "to say one racial group are ALL racists is by definition racist in itself".
Eventually the brand was forced to issue comment. They publicly severed ties with the model and Trans rights activist, claiming that her views made her at "odd" with their "values". In a statement, they justified ending their partnership with Bergdorf on account to their commitment to "[supporting] diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender and religion".
“The L’Oréal Paris True Match campaign is a representation of these values and we are proud of the diversity of the Ambassadors who represent this campaign.
L’Oréal remains committed to celebrating diversity and breaking down barriers in beauty.”
Bergdorf has since attempted to put her controversial statements into "context". Taking to her personal Facebook page, she clarified that not only was her rant "not written this week" but that it was an undeviating response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville where self confessed neo-Nazis wielded torches and shouted anti-semitic remarks:
"When I stated that "all white people are racist", I was addressing that fact that western society as a whole, is a SYSTEM rooted in white supremacy - designed to benefit, prioritise and protect white people before anyone of any other race. Unknowingly, white people are SOCIALISED to be racist from birth onwards. It is not something genetic. No one is born racist."
Bergdorf has called into question L'Oréal's commitment to the diversity that it supposedly lauds by stating that if they really cared, they would have proffered their support. Certainly, there is a good deal of irony in the fact that Bergdorf's impassioned anti-racism activism and her courage in sharing experiences of being a black, trans individual have led her to miss out on an otherwise fantastic opportunity. And in a society where the President of the United States fails to condemn the actions of the white supremacists involved in the Charlottesville tragedy, it's hard not to feel disillusioned at the state of the world.