The black model in the Dove ad accused of racism has spoken out to say she is ‘not a victim’.
Speaking after Dove apologised unreservedly for the advert instead of defending it, Lola Ogunyemi explained in a piece for The Guardian.
She said that Dove was trying to say that women of all skin types and colours deserve smooth skin. However, she continued, the message had been lost in unfortunate editing to the clip being shared on social media.
The ad went viral after screenshots showing Ogunyemi taking off her shirt to reveal a white woman underneath were posted on Twitter. Many people pointed out that it echoed old racist adverts that sold soap by claiming it was strong enough to make a black person white.
She said that the longer TV ad, shown in the US, did the campaign’s message more justice. Ogunyemi said it showed about seven women of different races all turning into each other. She appeared again at the end.
The full Facebook ad also showed the white model taking off her shirt and turning into an Asian model.
Ogunyemi wrote: ‘If I had even the slightest inclination that I would be portrayed as inferior, or as the “before” in a before and after shot, I would have been the first to say an emphatic “no”.
I would have (un)happily walked right off set and out of the door. That is something that goes against everything I stand for.’
She said that after the ad went out, people called her to congratulate her. The acknowledgments were especially for being the first model to appear in the line-up, and ‘for representing Black Girl Magic’.
Advertisers must ‘look beyond the surface’
‘I loved it, and everyone around me seemed to as well,’ the model wrote. ‘I think the full TV edit does a much better job of making the campaign’s message loud and clear.’
Ogunyemi continued on to say that, she doesn’t believe the Dove ad was intentionally racist. However, she added that advertisers need to ‘look beyond the surface and consider the impact their images may have’. She specifically referred to ‘when it comes to marginalised groups of women’.
‘I can see how the snapshots that are circulating 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’, she concluded.