The Nigerian model featured in Dove’s widely criticized ad has defended the campaign and said it was meant to promote diversity.
The renowned skincare company faced backlash because of a Facebook ad which showed a black model taking off her brown shirt to reveal a white model clad in a nude shirt. The transformation was deemed by many as a result of using the advertised body wash.
Lola Ogunyemi told The Guardian that she was surprised upon finding out that the ad sparked a racial debate. She said the reason why she agreed to do the campaign was to defy the beauty industry’s narrative that dark equates to being dirty.
The London-born model explained that she wouldn’t do the campaign if she believed that it would portray her as the inferior one. For her, the ad was merely misinterpreted and that people quickly made assumptions based on screenshots.
“A lot has been left out. The narrative has been written without giving consumers context on which to base an informed opinion.”
Emphasizing that she isn’t a “silent victim of a mistaken beauty campaign,” Ogunyemi thinks that Dove should not have taken down the ad and instead elaborated its creative vision. She recalled having “an amazing time on set” because they understood that the ad was meant to convey that all skin types deserve gentleness.
Following the furor, Dove apologized stating that their ad “missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully.”
It isn’t the first time that Dove has earned the ire of consumers because of its seemingly insensitive ads.
In May, 2011, Dove introduced six kinds of body wash bottles to its United Kingdom market. The bottles were designed to resemble women’s body types – some looked statuesque while some were plump. While Dove said at the time that they wanted to acknowledge all the “curves and edges” of women, this backfired after consumers felt that they were being body-shamed.
A few months before the failed ad, the company received another backlash for presenting three women of various ethnicities who were standing next to each other. A poster indicating “before” was placed right behind the black model while the one indicating “after” was positioned behind the white woman.
Dove again apologized and claimed that they do not tolerate imagery that deliberately insults people.
[Featured Image by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Dove]