Woman from Dove advertisement speaks out, says intent of commercial was not racist
The woman featured in a Dove advertisement that went viral for accusations of being racist has spoken out about the backlash.
Lola Ogunyemi was one of three women featured in a Dove Facebook ad that made its rounds on the internet earlier this week. The ad pictured the women turning into each other upon pulling off their t-shirts. Ogunyemi, an African-American model, was pictured first in the ad and she pulled off her shirt to reveal a Caucasian woman underneath. The Caucasian woman then pulled off her shirt to reveal an Asian woman.
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The ad was accused of racist undertones because Ogunyemi pulled off her t-shirt to reveal a white woman, which was widely interpreted as a before-and-after type ad.
In an opinion column published on the Guardian’s website, Lola Ogunyemi described her experience filming the advert, and her thoughts upon witnessing the public response. While she believes the initial message of the full television ad was one that promoted diversity, she had no inclination the Facebook ad that became so controversial would portray her as “inferior.”
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“The experience I had with the Dove team was positive. I had an amazing time on set. 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. I remember all of us being excited at the idea of wearing nude T-shirts and turning into one another. We weren’t sure how the final edit was going to look, nor which of us would actually be featured in it, but everyone seemed to be in great spirits during filming, including me,” Ogunyemi wrote in the piece.
Dove quickly removed the ad and apologized for any “offence it has caused,” saying that it is reviewing its internal processes to ensure that content like this does not get released in the future.
Ogunyemi goes on to explain how advertisers need to consider the impact their images will cause, specifically when dealing with marginalized groups.
Dove has long championed the concept of “real beauty” in its advertising campaigns, though this isn’t the first time the company’s messaging has hit a snag.
Dove has also faced backlash after releasing its”Real Beauty Bottles” campaign earlier this year, which advertised several soap bottles all shaped like different body types such hour glass, pear, etc. The campaign was criticized for being offensive, and for encouraging the categorization of people based on their body types.
Ogunyemi concluded her essay by saying she wished that in addition to apologizing, Dove had defended their choice to use her as the face of the campaign.
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