In Defence of Dove

The skincare giant, Dove, has recently come under fire for its television advert promoting female diversity. The thirty second advert, intended to convey the message “all skin deserves gentleness”, has been misconstrued and misinterpreted as a racist statement of white superiority over black: this was not Dove’s vision. The underlying concept of inclusivity and diversity of women that is depicted through the models in the final edit being of different racial groups (not just those from black and white ethnicities) and age groups has been overlooked in favour of a snippet less than five seconds long, to form an attack on Dove’s ethics.

The section in question shows a black woman take off her t-shirt to reveal a white woman beneath. This outrage inducing clip has been taken out of the wider context of the full advert, causing people to form opinions on the brand’s newest campaign from a pinhole view of the overall message. The speed with which Dove were judged for this section of their advert is sadly not a new thing in the beauty industry. It has become commonplace to criticise campaigns released by brands for not being inclusive of different races, genders, ages; the list goes on. Criticism has become such a kneejerk reaction from today’s society, it happens no matter what the campaign’s true message is. There needs to be less focus on companies’ shortcomings, and more emphasis on their attempts to become more all-encompassing.

Lola Ogunyemi, the model whom has now unwittingly become the face for racist advertising, spoke out against the backlash Dove received, in defence of their advert. Speaking in an interview, Lola stated that she truly believes in Dove’s intended message, maintaining that this has become lost in the media’s whirlwind of negativity towards such a small section of the overall advert; she has even said she would participate in the same advert again. It has been stated that all the women on set of Dove’s campaign had a positive experience, feeling the reality of inclusivity the company was intending to portray in the production of the advert.

Whilst this backlash has undoubtedly reiterated to all companies the importance of ensuring their message is not lost or distracted from by their imagery, all those contributing to the negative response must keep in mind the underlying facts. Dove aimed to join the fight against racism, not add to its cruelty – something to be kept in mind whilst watching this advert.

[Olivia Eriksen]

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