The Nigerian model who became the “the unwitting poster child for racist advertising” after the Dove advert she starred in went viral has finally opened up.
Though born in London and raised in Atlanta, Lola Ogunyemi, the Nigerian model in the advert, has said that she is “not a victim” and that the video was “misinterpreted”.
Dove said it “missed the mark” on this ad showing black model Lola Ogunyemi remove her top to reveal a white woman. pic.twitter.com/OQZhbyRNfi
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 10, 2017
Lola Ogunyemi explained in a comment piece for The Guardian that Dove was trying to say that women of all skin types and colours deserve smooth skin – but that 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.
Scores of “displeased” social media users pointed out that it echoed old racist adverts that sold soap by claiming it was strong enough to make a black person white.
As a result of this, the beauty company has issued an apology for an advertising campaign branded “racist” which included an image of a black woman removing her top to reveal a white model underneath.
— Dove (@Dove) October 9, 2017
An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused.
— Dove (@Dove) October 7, 2017
She 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.”
— Kristina Chäadé Dove (@KristinaCDove) October 8, 2017
Lola said that after the ad went out, people called her to congratulate her – especially for being the first model to appear in the line-up, and ‘for representing Black Girl Magic’. ‘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 added that, while she doesn’t believe the Dove ad was intentionally racist, advertisers need to ‘look beyond the surface and consider the impact their images may have, specifically 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.”
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