Model Munroe Bergdorf has criticized L’Oréal Paris over its support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
As protests continue in the United States in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, many brands are showing their support on social media. L’Oréal Paris posted a message to its Instagram account, showing support of Black Lives Matter, but Munroe took the company to task.
On June 1, the beauty brand company shared an image to Instagram that featured an entirely black background with white letters giving their message of support to protesters. The company stated that “speaking out” was “worth it,” and attached its logo to the bottom of the image.
In the caption of the post, the company said it “stands in solidarity” and is “against injustice of any kind.” L’Oréal Paris then wrote that it was committed to work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and to support the fight for justice for the death of George Floyd.
While the company received a lot of praise in the comments section of its post, Monroe felt differently and shared her story on her own Instagram account.
Munroe shared a screenshot of the same graphic image the beauty company shared, but offered her perspective to the story.
First, the model asked fans to “excuse” her language and then claimed L’Oréal Paris “dropped” the model from a campaign back in 2017. She went on to say that the company fired her because she had spoken out at the time over white supremacy and racism.
L’Oréal champions diversity. Comments by Munroe Bergdorf are at odds with our values and so we have decided to end our partnership with her.
— L'Oréal Paris UK (@LOrealParisUK) September 1, 2017
She went on to say that the company didn’t give a “second thought” to let her go over the incident and accused L’Oréal Paris of allowing her to be “torn apart” by the press because the company wasn’t comfortable talking about the issue. She claimed the company tried to get her to “incriminate” herself by “pairing” her up with lawyers she called “shady.” Munroe then added that she hadn’t done anything wrong and that she was fired for speaking out.
“Racist snakes,” Munroe stated. She then dropped a few more expletives before asking the company where support was for her back in 2017 when she spoke out, asking why L’Oréal Paris didn’t offer her an apology at the time or afterward.
“I’m disgusted and writing this in floods of tears and shaking,” she wrote, calling the whole thing “gaslighting.”
She ended her post with a plea to her fans, saying if the public cared about the Black Lives Movement and her, they wouldn’t let L’Oréal Paris “get away with this.”
Support flooded in for the model, and the post accumulated more than 100,000 likes and more than 2,500 comments.
View this post on Instagram
I wanted to give @lorealparis 48 hours before writing this to see if a public apology was possible. But their choice to ignore me and not acknowledge the emotional, mental and professional harm that they caused me since sacking me in 2017, after speaking out about white supremacy and racism, speaks volumes. So does their choice to not engage with the thousands of black community members and allies who have left comments of concern on their last two posts, in response to their claim to support the black community, despite an evident history of being unwilling to talk about the issues that black people face globally because of white supremacy. Black Lives Matter is a movement for the people, by the people. It is not here to be co-opted for capital gain by companies who have no intention of actually having difficult conversations regarding white supremacy, police brutality, colonialism and systemic racism. It cannot be reduced to a series of corporate trends by brands like L'Oréal who have no intention of actually doing the work to better themselves or taking ownership of their past mistakes or conscious acts of racial bias. I would not have been sacked if I had said what I said and was a cisgender, straight, white woman. It just wouldn't have happened. If you want to stand with black lives matter then get your own house in order first. This could have been a moment of redemption for L'Oréal, a chance for them to make amends and lead by example. We all get things wrong, we all make mistakes, but it's where you go from there that is a signifier of who you are. L'Oréal claiming to stand with the black community, yet also refusing to engage with the community on this issue, or apologise for the harm they caused to a black female queer transgender employee, shows us who they are – just another big brand who seeks to capitalise from a marginalised movement, by widening their audience and attempting to improve their public image. Brands need to be aware of their own track record. It's unacceptable to claim to stand with us, if the receipts show a history of silencing black voices. Speaking out can’t only be “worth it” when you’re white. Black voices matter.
In a secondary post, Munroe called the company out again for not responding to her initial story.
According to The Root, L’Oréal Paris has yet to issue a public response or an apology to Munroe.