In a Facebook ad for Dove body wash, a black woman removes her brown shirt and (SURPRISE!) underneath is a white woman in a light shirt.
The ad, a three-second GIF, featured three women, each removing her shirt to reveal the next, but the transition from the black woman to the white women (compiled into a collage by a social media user) called up a long-running racist trope in soap advertising: a “dirty” black person cleansed into whiteness.
The outcry to ad was pretty swift, with many social media users wondering how it could have made it any kind of review. (My guess, no persons of color on staff and their social media person got SO fired.) On Saturday, Dove apologized, writing on Facebook,
“Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity. In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused.”
Marissa Solan, a spokeswoman for Dove, said on Sunday that the GIF
“was intended to convey that Dove Body Wash is for every woman and be a celebration of diversity, but we got it wrong and, as a result, offended many people.”
She added that Dove had removed the post and was
“re-evaluating our internal processes for creating and reviewing content.”
But critics were not impressed by the apology. Ariel Macklin wrote in a comment on Facebook that was liked more than a thousand times.
“What was the mark? I mean anyone with eyes can see how offensive this is. Not one person on your staff objected to this? Wow. Will not be buying your products anymore.”
Dove’s ad was not an isolated case. In May of 2011 they were criticized for another ad, this one showing three women standing side by side, each with lighter skin than the woman next to her. Behind them were signs reading “before” and “after” with the “before” sign, behind an African-American woman, showed cracked skin, while the “after” sign, behind a white woman, showed smooth skin. The ad read,
“Visibly more beautiful skin.”
The fact that the most recent ad was Dove’s not their only offense was not lost on Keith Boykin who posted this.
And another which points out labeling that says,
“for normal to dark skin“
Three strikes and you’re out.
(Photo, Twitter; via NY Times)