A Black model who appeared in a Dove advertisement that has been criticized as being racist on social media came out in defense of the ad, saying it actually celebrates ethnic diversity.
Yahoo reports that Lola Ogunyemi thought nothing of a three-second clip she appeared in for Dove, which depicted her taking off her shirt to reveal a white woman, who in turn took off her shirt to reveal an Asian woman. But she soon found herself in the middle of an international uproar about the clip.
“I don’t feel it was racist,” she said in an interview with the BBC on Wednesday.
Critics of the commercial likened it to a 19th-century soap campaign that depicted black people scrubbing themselves to become white, saying it implies white people are cleaner than black people.
Ogunyemi said the stills from the clip, which primarily depict her and the white woman, were misleading, and that a 30-second made-for-TV version that had other images and a slogan made it much clearer that the message was all women deserve quality products.
“The screenshots that have taken the media by storm paint a slightly different picture,” she said.
Dove apologized for the Facebook clip, saying it had “missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Ogunyemi, who is Nigerian but was born in Britain and raised in the United States, said she has “grown up very aware of society’s opinion that dark-skinned people, especially women, would look better if our skin were lighter.”
She said she believed her role in the ad was a chance to “represent my dark-skinned sisters in a global beauty brand.”
Ogunyemi says Dove could’ve defended themselves better.
“They should have strong teams there that can point this kind of thing out before it goes to air,” she told the BBC.
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