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Woman in ‘Racist’ Dove Ad Says ‘I Am Not a Victim’

”I can see how the snapshots that are circulating the web have been misinterpreted,“ Lola Ogunyemi writes

Lola Ogunyemi, the Nigerian model who starred in a Dove ad that has been criticized as racist, has come to the defense of the campaign, saying that the still that were circulated were taken out of context.

“There is a lack of trust here, and I feel the public was justified in their initial outrage,” Ogunyemi wrote in The Guardian on Tuesday, admitting that Dove has been criticized for this same issue in the past. “Having said that, I can also see that a lot has been left out. The narrative has been written without giving consumers context on which to base an informed opinion.”

A portion of the video showing Ogunyemi removing a skin-toned shirt and becoming a white woman went viral over the weekend. Viewers slammed the ad for presenting a before-and-after setup in which a black woman was made white, calling it “racist” for equating whiteness with cleanliness.

In response, Dove pulled the campaign, apologizing and saying that the ad “missed the mark.”

“I know that the beauty industry has fueled this opinion with its long history of presenting lighter, mixed-race or white models as the beauty standard,” Ogunyemi wrote. “This repressive narrative is one I have seen affect women from many different communities I’ve been a part of. ”

She went on to explain that the full, 30-second version of the ad featured seven women of “different races and ages,” showing that there are many different skin types. “I loved it, and everyone around me seemed to as well. I think the full TV edit does a much better job of making the campaign’s message loud and clear,” she wrote.

Ogunyemi made clear that she is “not just some silent victim of a mistaken beauty campaign” and wrote that though Dove was right to apologize for causing offense, the company should have “defended their creative vision, and their choice to include [Ogunyemi], an unequivocally dark-skinned black woman, as a face of their campaign.”