By now, everyone has seen the images from a controversial Dove ad that made headlines this past weekend. And while many have expressed strong, and valid, feelings about their disappointment with the beauty brand for the ad, the person we have yet to hear from is the Black woman featured in it. That is until now.
On Tuesday, Lola Ogunyemi, the Nigerian woman featured in the ad, penned a candid and heartfelt piece for The Guardian reminding us she’s not a “silent victim.” Like so many Black women she grew up constantly hearing “you’re so pretty… for a dark-skinned girl,” which is why she was so excited to be featured in the ad. The campaign was an opportunity to put her #Blackgirlmagic on full display and show that Black women are valued and important.
“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 writes.
Ogunyemi says she had an amazing and positive experience with the Dove team while shooting the ad and was excited to see the final result.
The commercial, which has since pulled from the Internet, showed seven different women answering the question: “If your skin were a wash label, what would it say?” However, it was when pieces and snapshots of the ad started to circulate on the Internet that things took a sharp left turn.
And Ogunyemi completely understands why.
“There is definitely something to be said here about how advertisers need to look beyond the surface and consider the impact their images may have, specifically when it comes to marginalized groups of women,” she writes. “It is important to examine whether your content shows that your consumer’s voice is not only heard, but also valued.”
Dove has since apologized for the ad.