The Nigerian woman in the ‘racist Dove ad’ finally speaks
Lola Ogunyemi wrote Tuesday in the Guardian that she agreed with the company’s decision to apologize for its ad, which was seen by many as racially insensitive. But she also said Dove should have defended its creative vision.
“I feel the public was justified in their initial outrage,” she said. “Having said that, I can also see that a lot has been left out.” Dove came under fire after it posted a 3-second GIF to its Facebook page Friday.
It showed a looping image of Ogunyemi removing a dark brown t-shirt to reveal a white woman. She then removes her beige t-shirt to reveal a third woman. “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,” she said.
Ogunyemi said the women featured in the ad understood the concept, adding that she loved the final product. People congratulated her for “representing Black Girl Magic,” she said.
She also said a version presented as a TV commercial included seven women of different races and ages. Each woman answered the question, “If your skin were a wash label, what would it say?”
Ogunyemi said the TV edit did a better job of representing the campaign’s message. She added that the flap shows how advertisers need to consider the impact their images may have, especially on marginalized groups of women.
Dove took down the ad Saturday. In its apology, the company said the ad “did not represent the diversity of real beauty” that it cares about.
Ogunyemi said she agreed with that response, but added that Dove could have discussed its choice to include her as a face of the campaign. “I am not just some silent victim of a mistaken beauty campaign,” she said. “I am strong, I am beautiful, and I will not be erased.”