When Dove's problematic commercial came out a few days ago, some people probably asked themselves why and how the black model agreed to be a part of it in the first place. Was she not briefed on what the ad was about? It seems she was.
London based model Lola Ogunyemi happily agreed to be one of the faces of Dove's new bodywash campaign and she doesn't feel like a duped victim after all.
Ogunyemi told the Guardian that when Dove offered her a spot in their latest campaign she jumped at the opportunity to represent dark-skinned girls. Her reason for this is that she grew up subjected to society's negative perceptions of dark skin and how darker-skinned women have always been told they would look better if lighter.
And we all know very well how the beauty industry has always put light-skinned women at the forefront of beauty campaigns, so what Lola intended to do by agreeing to appear in the ad was to subvert these notions.
However, this (now) 'before' model who had only hoped to be a proud face of diversity in the beauty industry, got the opposite reaction intended.
The backlash the Dove campaign received was upsetting for Lola, as she lamented to The Guardian that she has inadvertently become the poster girl for racism. "If you Google 'racist ad' right now, a picture of my face is the first result," she said.
While nobody has directly vilified her (rightfully so) for appearing in the ad, the London-based model has expressed how if she thought there was any intention to portray her skin colour as inferior she would have declined.
She also argues that the ad which went viral on Facebook (and subsequently all other social media platforms) for all the wrong reasons is not a full depiction of the commercial. Lola Ogunyemi notes that the full 30-second video actually features several more women of all races and ages and that she enjoyed working with the team involved in shooting the campaign.
But even so, many believe the way in which the commercial was edited is implicit of something less sensitive to racial histories.
Even though Ogunyemi feels the campaign has been misinterpreted, she says this; "There is definitely something to be said here about how advertisers need to look beyond the surface and consider the impact their images may have, specifically when it comes to marginalised groups of women. It is important to examine whether your content shows that your consumer’s voice is not only heard, but also valued."