Model at centre of Dove advert controversy claims, 'I will not be erased’
As you probably all know by now, Dove is at the center of a storm online regarding an advertising campaign which has been branded as "racist" by many.
The advert, which shows a black woman taking off her t-shirt to reveal a white woman, was greeted with hostility online by people who construed the advert to represent that dark skin is "dirty" and therefore inferior. While Dove apologised for the advert, admitting that it was a mistake, the model who starred in it has now weighed in with her opinion on events.
Lola Ogunyemi, a Nigerian woman, born in London and raised in Atlanta, said that she "jumped" at the chance to be the face of a global campaign, as dark-skinned models are rarely seen across the media.
"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," she wrote in an article for the Guardian.
Ogunyemi added that some of the clips that have been circulating around on social media misconstrue the message behind the advertisement, saying that she, and "all of the women in the shoot understood the concept and overarching objective – to use our differences to highlight the fact that all skin deserves gentleness."
The campaign, which initially appeared as a GIF on Facebook, showed a black woman (Ogunyemi), removing her t-shirt to reveal a white woman underneath. The images went viral once they were picked up by American makeup artist Naomi Blake, who shared the photos across social media.
However, while Ogunyemi doesn't believe that campaigners set out to be overtly racist, she can see how people took that from the advertisement.
"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."
After the advert received such an amount of scorn online, Dove was quick to release an official apology, saying that it "did not represent the diversity of real beauty".
“This did not represent the diversity of real beauty which is something Dove is passionate about and is core to our beliefs, and it should not have happened.
“We have removed the post and have not published any other related content. We apologise deeply and sincerely for the offence that it has caused.”
Ogunyemi says that she accepts Dove's apology, but believes they should've outlined their creative vision and their choice of models in it. She also says that she is "not just some silent victim of a mistaken beauty campaign. I am strong, I am beautiful, and I will not be erased."
Well done for Ogunyemi for speaking about the controversy and for issuing such a powerful statement. It would have been easy for her to stay quiet, but she came out publicly to try and settle down the hostilities.