Lola Ogunyemi, the woman in the Dove advertisement that has been criticized for being tone deaf and racist, is speaking out.
In an opinion piece on The Guardian, Ogunyemi described how excited she had been to be part of Dove’s new ad campaign and to be given a chance to celebrate her own beauty as a dark-skinned woman. However, that excitement turned into something else entirely when the ad aired and people began to criticize it.
“I remember all of us being excited at the idea of wearing nude T-shirts and turning into one another. We weren’t sure how the final edit was going to look, nor which of us would actually be featured in it, but everyone seemed to be in great spirits during filming, including me,” she recalled.
“Then the first Facebook ad was released: a 13-second video clip featuring me, a white woman, and an Asian woman removing our nude tops and changing into each other. I loved it. My friends and family loved it. People congratulated me for being the first to appear, for looking fabulous, and for representing Black Girl Magic. I was proud.”
Ogunyemi then described how the full TV ad was even better, and she was especially proud to feature at the very beginning of it. However, the backlash against the ad has left her not as the face of Dove’s ad campaign but the face of racist advertising, which Ogunyemi described as “upsetting.”
“If I had even the slightest inclination that I would be portrayed as inferior, or as the ‘before’ in a before and after shot, I would have been the first to say an emphatic ‘no’. I would have (un)happily walked right off set and out of the door. That is something that goes against everything I stand for,” Ogunyemi said.
She also spoke about Dove’s reaction, noting that it was the right thing to do, she added that she wished it had been slightly different.
“While I agree with Dove’s response to unequivocally apologise for any offense caused, they could have also defended their creative vision, and their choice to include me, an unequivocally dark-skinned black woman, as a face of their campaign. I am not just some silent victim of a mistaken beauty campaign. I am strong, I am beautiful, and I will not be erased.”