Video: Black Model in Controversial Dove Ad: ‘I am not a victim’

Video: Black Model in Controversial Dove Ad: ‘I am not a victim’

Lola Ogunyemi, the Nigerian woman that appeared in the controversial Dove commercial says that she is defending the original vision and stated that she is not a victim, much to the shock of liberals that claim the commercial is racist.

Ogunyemi who was born in London, England and raised in Atlanta, Georgia responded and said that when Dove offered her the chance to be the face of a new body wash campaign, she jumped for the opportunity but had no idea she would become the unwitting poster child for racist advertising.

Ogunyemi stated:

I know that the beauty industry has fueled this opinion with its long history of presenting lighter, mixed-race or white models as the beauty standard. Historically, and in many countries still today, darker models are even used to demonstrate a product’s skin-lightening qualities to help women reach this standard.

This repressive narrative is one I have seen affect women from many different communities I’ve been a part of. And this is why, when Dove offered me the chance to be the face of a new body wash campaign, I jumped.

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.

Then one morning, I woke up to a message from a friend asking if the woman in a post he’d seen was really me. I went online and discovered I had become the unwitting poster child for racist advertising. No lie.

If you Google “racist ad” right now, a picture of my face is the first result. 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.

Calls were being made to boycott Dove products, and friends from all over the world were checking on me to see if I was OK. I was overwhelmed by just how controversial the ad had become.

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.

However, 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 can see how the snapshots that are circulating the web 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.

While I agree with Dove’s response to unequivocally apologize for any offense caused, they could have also defended their creative vision, and their choice to include me, an unequivocally dark-skinned black woman, as a face of their campaign. I am not just some silent victim of a mistaken beauty campaign. I am strong, I am beautiful, and I will not be erased.

Read more on TheGuardian.com.

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