Black model who appeared in Dove ad says it was not racist

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  •  Lola Ogunyemi appeared in a Dove advert accused of being racist
  • Stills from a short clip saw her remove a t-shirt to reveal a white woman
  • However, they were taken from a full 30-second advertisement 
  • Ms Ogunyemi says the full commercial celebrates ethnic diversity

By Reuters and Sara Malm for MailOnline

Published: 05:40 EDT, 11 October 2017 | Updated: 08:04 EDT, 11 October 2017

A black model who appeared in a Dove advert denounced on social media as racist users has defended the clip, saying that the images had been taken out of context.

Lola Ogunyemi unwittingly found herself at the centre of an international furore over a three-second video posted on Dove's U.S. Facebook page.

The short clip, taken from a longer commercial, shows Ms Ogunyemi in a skin-coloured t-shirt, removing it to reveal a white woman, who then takes her top off to reveal an Asian woman.

Defense: Lola Ogunyemi, seen on the BBC this morning, has defended the advert she was involved in, saying it celebrated diversity and was not racist
Defense: Lola Ogunyemi, seen on the BBC this morning, has defended the advert she was involved in, saying it celebrated diversity and was not racist

Defense: Lola Ogunyemi, seen on the BBC this morning, has defended the advert she was involved in, saying it celebrated diversity and was not racist

However Ms Ogunyemi, from London, said the stills from the clip gave the wrong impression, and that the full Dove ad far from belittled black women, but celebrated ethnic diversity.

Ms Ogunyemi is British of Nigerian descent, but her family moved to the United States aged ten, and she grew up in Atlanta.

'I don't feel it was racist,' she said in an interview with the BBC on Wednesday.

Many Facebook and Twitter users said the clip signalled that white people were cleaner or more beautiful than black people and likened it to 19th century soap adverts that showed black people scrubbing themselves to become white.

But Ogunyemi said the stills from the clip that shot around the internet over the weekend - which mostly showed only her and the white woman, leaving out the Asian woman - gave the wrong impression.

Responding: Lola Ogunyemi starred in this Dove commercial, which after being posted on the company's Facebook was accused of racism
Responding: Lola Ogunyemi starred in this Dove commercial, which after being posted on the company's Facebook was accused of racism

Responding: Lola Ogunyemi starred in this Dove commercial, which after being posted on the company's Facebook was accused of racism

She said there was a 30-second, made-for-TV version that had other images and a slogan that made it much clearer that the intention was to say that all women deserved quality products.

'The screenshots that have taken the media by storm paint a slightly different picture,' she said.

Dove apologised for the Facebook clip, saying it had 'missed the mark in representing women of colour thoughtfully'.

Miss Ogunyemi said in an article in the Guardian that she had 'grown up very aware of society's opinion that dark-skinned people, especially women, would look better if our skin were lighter'.

Far from fitting into this narrative, she wrote, her participation in the Dove advert was a chance to 'represent my dark-skinned sisters in a global beauty brand'.

Outrage: Twitter users are seen posting reactions to the advertisement on the social networking site 
Outrage: Twitter users are seen posting reactions to the advertisement on the social networking site 

Outrage: Twitter users are seen posting reactions to the advertisement on the social networking site 

Apology: Dove posted this on their Twitter after the online furore over the commercial
Apology: Dove posted this on their Twitter after the online furore over the commercial

Apology: Dove posted this on their Twitter after the online furore over the commercial

More accusation: A Twitter user points out similar missteps made by Dove in the past, with an advertisement where two panels show 'before' and 'after' as three models from darkest to lightest skinned stand in front of them
More accusation: A Twitter user points out similar missteps made by Dove in the past, with an advertisement where two panels show 'before' and 'after' as three models from darkest to lightest skinned stand in front of them

More accusation: A Twitter user points out similar missteps made by Dove in the past, with an advertisement where two panels show 'before' and 'after' as three models from darkest to lightest skinned stand in front of them

She said Dove could have defended itself by better explaining the concept behind the clip.

However, she also said that Dove should have spotted the risk that the sequence of images could be interpreted as racist given that it had run into trouble over similar content in the past.

'They should have strong teams there that can point this kind of thing out before it goes to air,' she told the BBC.

Dove, a Unilever brand, was criticised in 2011 over an ad which showed three women side by side in front of a before-and-after image of cracked and smooth skin, with a black woman on the 'before' side and a white woman on the 'after' side.

Another point of contention was a label on a Dove product that said it was for 'normal to dark skin'. 

Larry White
By Larry White 11/10/2017 08:04:00