Dove’s Controversial Ad: Another One?



A screenshot of Dove’s controversial advertisement which Lola Ogunyemi starred in.

Alyssa Pepito, Photojournalist

Dove released an advertisement to promote their body wash to everyone around the world. In this recent advertisement, an African American woman is shown to remove her skin colored shirt and a white woman pops up as she takes it off. Some implied that the woman of color turned white after using Dove’s promoted product. With this type of advertisement, it was misinterpreted and received immediate backlash, especially from the media.

Many assumed that Dove was trying to create a racial message out of their advertisement. However, there is a reason to their assumption. The beauty industry has had a history of believing that dark skin color was a bad thing and the beauty standard was being light skinned. Due to this fact, people are stuck on the idea that Dove created an extremely offensive ad, telling people that they should lighten their skin to be more beautiful.

It has been noted that there have been previous blatant, racial soap ads from other companies. Even Dove has made an advertisement that made many question whether there was intended racism or not. In this advertisement [shown on the right], they lined up two women of color and one white woman in front of two pictures of skin. One was labeled “before” and was a picture of dry skin; the other, labeled “after” and had a picture of softer, smoother skin. This was an ad for lotion which implied the subtle message that “white skin is the ultimate goal for Dove” (CBS News). Tiffany Vo (11) confessed how Dove should really “watch what they are putting out there, especially for the media to see.”

The model of this ad, Lola Agunyemi, stood up for Dove and admitted that she is “the woman in the ‘racist Dove ad’” and she is “not a victim.” She puts up defense for the company saying that, before shooting, she did not hint or feel that the advertisement was even a bit racist or that she would be “portrayed as inferior” (The Guardian). If she did, she would have left the opportunity to be in their advertisement as she herself is strongly against racism. In her opinion, she believed that including her and other women of color in the ad was a move of representation of women of color rather than an implication of something racist.

However, since receiving the harsh feedback from numerous angered people, Dove has taken down the advertisement. Dove took it to Facebook and Twitter to apologize for their actions saying, “An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused.” Today, some of the media still continue to believe that Dove made a racially offensive advertisement and refuse to see it any other way.