At a time when so much great conversation about representation is occurring, it’s shocking that companies still create ads that are at best tone deaf and at worst racist. Dove’s recent Facebook ad was the latter, and the company has now (sort of) apologized — but we’re not sure that’s enough.
This is a major disappointment, considering how much effort Dove has previously put into its ad campaigns to promote self-love and body-positivity. Those are greatly appreciated, but the Dove ad in question here features a black woman turning into a white woman after using the beauty brand’s body wash, and that’s a deeply offensive and problematic image.
Here’s what the ad looked like:
You may need to use some soap to wash your eyes out after seeing it — but not Dove soap, of course.
The image shows four panels, the top left with a black woman wearing a brown shirt that she’s lifting to reveal a white woman in a white shirt. The point here seems to be that that whiteness is cleaner/better/more hygienic than browness and that, to put it simply is, not okay.
People on social media have been drawing comparisons between Dove’s ad and racist ads from the past that show people of color becoming lighter/whiter (aka “better”) after using a particular brand of soap.
“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” wrote Facebook user Megan Blair.
Dove took to Twitter to issue a statement in response to the criticism, and while it seems like it’s meant to be an apology, the words “We’re sorry” aren’t actually used. Instead, the message says, “We deeply regret the offense it caused.”
Here’s the full statement from Twitter:
Dove also issued a longer statement on Facebook, adding that it is “committed to representing the beauty of diversity.”
Director Ava Duverney responded to the brand’s Twitter message with, “You can do better than ‘missed the mark,'” and other users pointed out that Dove has created similarly racist ads in the past.
The most burning question that everyone’s asking about this incident is how the eff did this happen?
Others on social media have used the incident to spread the word about black-owned beauty businesses (that won’t use their advertising budgets to portray marginalized people as “dirty,” or the “before” stage of a beauty makeover).
It’s always important to remember that the beauty industry profits off of people’s insecurities. To learn that Dove has changed its formerly empowering tune to this is incredibly disappointing.
Hopefully Dove has learned its lesson so this won’t happen again.