Illustration for article titled Black Model in Controversial Dove Ad Says She’s ‘Proud’ of Campaign, Especially Because It Featured a Dark-Skinned Woman

In the last few days, a shitstorm has surged around the Dove company after stills of its new ad campaign seemed to show a black woman turning white as the objective of its new body wash.


If one looks at the entire commercial, however, it’s clear that the ad was trying to show that women of different ethnicities could use the product, which is why the black woman featured in it, Lola Ogunyemi, has spoken out saying that she is proud of the campaign, especially because Dove used a model with dark skin in it.


“Having the opportunity to represent my dark-skinned sisters in a global beauty brand felt like the perfect way for me to remind the world that we are here, we are beautiful, and more importantly, we are valued,” wrote Ogunyemi in a Tuesday op-ed for The Guardian.

Ogunyemi said she was thrilled by the campaign until she began to hear from friends and acquaintances that she was the “unwitting poster child for racist advertising.”

“I had been excited to be a part of the commercial and promote the strength and beauty of my race, so for it to be met with widespread outrage was upsetting,” the Nigerian Brit raised in Atlanta wrote.

Ogunyemi said that the concept of the ad—to use women of different skin tones, races and ethnicities to highlight the fact that all skin deserves gentleness—was misinterpreted. She said she never would have participated if she thought it offensive:

If I even had 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 she loved the first 13-second ad, showing her, a white woman and an Asian woman removing their nude tops and changing into each other.

“People congratulated me for being the first to appear, for looking fabulous, and for representing Black Girl Magic. I was proud,” she continues.


“Again, I was the first model to appear in the ad, describing my skin as ‘20% dry, 80% glowing,’ and appearing again at the end. I loved it, and everyone around me seemed to as well. I think the full TV edit does a much better job of making the campaign’s message loud and clear,” Ogunyemi explained.


She says that she can see how the snapshots that are circulating around the web have been misinterpreted, especially “considering the fact that Dove has faced a backlash in the past for the exact same issue.” She further says that she feels the public was justified in their initial outrage. However, she also says that “the narrative has been written without giving consumers context on which to base an informed opinion.”


Ogunyemi ends by saying that she thinks that the company was right to apologize but should have defended its creative vision, including “their choice to include me, an unequivocally dark-skinned black woman, as a face of their campaign.”

Read more at The Guardian.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Deputy Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

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