Good companies learn from their previous public relations disasters. But this isn’t the case for Dove. In case you missed the social media outcry, Dove recently posted a still from an advertisement for body wash that appeared to show a black woman removing her shirt and becoming a white woman.
Dove was quick to apologize in a statement saying it “missed the mark” in representing woman of color. But Dove, you didn’t only miss the mark—you missed the fact that empowerment does not mean being fair skinned.
I am proud to be a woman of colour. I have a daughter who is six. Her skin is beautiful the way it is. I do not want her to feel less of a person because of her skin color. It is sad for me as a mother to feel that as she grows she might want to be fair because ‘fair is lovely.’ I was under the impression that we were out of colonialism, and it wasn’t about our skin colour anymore.
It is time for advertising agencies to wake up. It is 2017. Women will not be subjugated anymore. We are all unique, equal and powerful. Please let us be comfortable in our own skins and do not make us worry about the shade of our skin. We have been saying no to colourism, but things like this pull our efforts back.
Help us put an end to racism, not promote your products with racism. You say your ad was intended to be a celebration of diversity. If you want to celebrate diversity, first embrace who we are and accept us as we are. Acknowledge our uniqueness and do not try to change us by making us ‘fair.’
We will stand with you only if you let us be comfortable in the skin we were born with.
Editor's note: The woman in the ad has since published this piece in The Guardian explaining that the still image posted on Facebook removed the context of the full advertisement that aired on television.