When Dove asked Lola Ogunyemi to be in a new soap campaign, she viewed it as an opportunity to represent her “dark-skinned sisters” and “remind the world that we are here, we are beautiful, and more importantly, we are valued,” she wrote in a commentary for the Guardian.
She was shocked to wake up one recent morning to find she had become the “unwitting poster child for racist advertising.”
“If you Google ‘racist ad’ right now, a picture of my face is the first result,” Ogunyemi said in the commentary published Tuesday.
The recently released Dove body wash ad drew widespread outrage for showing a black woman — Ogunyemi — removing her shirt to reveal a white woman. To scores of consumers, the images invoked a message that dark skin is dirty and in need of cleansing, a racist stereotype historically seen in soap ads, as The Washington Post’s Cleve R. Wootson Jr. reported.
Dove removed the ad and issued an apology Saturday, saying it “missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully.” In an emailed statement to the Associated Press on Sunday, Dove said the video “did not represent the diversity of real beauty which is something Dove is passionate about and is core to our beliefs, and it should not have happened.”