“I am not a victim”: the black model from Dove’s ‘racist’ ad speaks out

After becoming the “unwitting poster child for racist advertising,” the black woman featured in the controversial Dove advert has expressed her thoughts on the issue.

On Friday, social media accused Dove of racism after the beauty brand released an ad showing a black model taking off her top to reveal a white woman underneath. Many pointed out that it was reminiscent of old racist adverts claiming that soaps could change a person’s skin colour.

A day later, the video was taken down and Dove unreservedly apologised.

Now, in an opinion piece for The Guardian, the woman in question, Lola Ogunyemi, has spoken out. She said that she actually enjoyed making the advert and that she was excited to promote the beauty of her race.

“I loved it. My friends and family loved it,” she wrote. “People congratulated me for being the first to appear, for looking fabulous, and for representing Black Girl Magic. I was proud.”

However, the message got lost in the editing, which made Ogunyemi look like the “before in a before and after shot.” A longer version of the video showed several women involved, all of whom spoke positively about different skin types and colours.

“If I had even the slightest inclination that I would be portrayed as inferior,” she added, “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 continued on to say that though she felt the advert wasn’t intended to be racist, she also understood the feelings of those slighted by it. She commended Dove too for apologising, but also criticised them for not defending their creative vision and the choice of including her in their campaign.

She concluded: “I am not just some silent victim of a mistaken beauty campaign. I am strong, I am beautiful, and I will not be erased.”