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Nigerian Model In Dove’s Controversial Ad Speaks Out, Says She’s ‘Not A Victim’
By Mikelle Leow, 11 Oct 2017
Composite image by DesignTAXI. Background images via hannahrosewoods
Dove has had a rough weekend—one of its ads was thrown into the spotlight recently, and not for good reasons. Some netizens have called out the commercial for being completely racist.
The spot shows a dark-skinned woman removing her brown shirt to reveal a wholly different, fair-skinned woman wearing an off-white shirt. Dove has since stepped out with an apology, but consumers felt it was superficial.
Now, Lola Ogunyemi, who starred inside the ad, has decided to address the whole hoo-ha. In a tell-all to The Guardian, the Nigerian woman who was born in London and raised in Atlanta, explained that she had no idea she’d be “the unwitting poster child for racist advertising.”
“From a very young age, I’ve been told, ‘You’re so pretty for a dark-skinned girl,’” Ogunyemi said. “I know that the beauty industry has fueled this opinion with its long history of presenting lighter, mixed-race or white models as the beauty standard. Historically, and in many countries still today, darker models are even used to demonstrate a product’s skin-lightening qualities to help women reach this standard.”
Thus, the model was ecstatic when Dove reached out to her to be part of its new body wash campaign. She felt it was her chance to “represent my dark-skinned sisters… to remind the world that we are here, we are beautiful, and more importantly, we are valued.”
Ogunyemi believes that the backlash Dove suffered in the past has led to a lack of trust from consumers.
“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.”
The model also agrees that as a global beauty brand, the company should have communicated its decision to execute the campaign from this particular angle, rather than let people do the guesswork.
“While I agree with Dove’s response to unequivocally apologize for any offence 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.”
Read her full interview with The Guardian.
[via Huffpost and The Guardian, cover image via hannahrosewoods]
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