Dove's 'Real Beauty' Shtick Crumbles In Racist Ad Demeaning Black Skin

The transformation from a black woman to a white one evoked a long-running Jim Crow era-style theme in soap advertising.



Dove, the self-proclaimed champion of "real beauty" from all bodies types, attempted to represent “women of color thoughtfully” with its latest ad. Instead, the soap company produced an ad so blaringly racist that it's confounding how it ever got made, much less promoted on Facebook, in the first place.

Dove posted a 3-second video of a black woman removing her brown shirt to reveal a white woman in a light-colored shirt. A bottle of Dove body wash sat before the women on the bathroom counter.

The screenshot, posted by 29-year-old makeup artist Naomi Blake on her Facebook page during the weekend, received fierce backlash. Blake posted the screenshots after writing to Dove and only getting canned PR responses in return. 

“How can you see a body wash ad like this and not realize? It rubbed me and many people the wrong way,” Blake told CNNMoney. “What are you telling the little black girls who watch this?”

Dove deleted the ad shortly after, saying they “deeply regret” they “missed the mark.”

Whatever “the mark” was for Dove, many viewers saw the advertisement as the offensive message it is: being black equates to dirty while white equates to clean.

Marissa Solan, a spokeswoman for Dove, said the ad “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.”

The transformation from a black woman to a white one evoked a long-running Jim Crow era-style theme in soap advertising, where a “dirty” black person, who is doused in soap and water, emerges from it white and “clean.”

“The historical context makes this sooo [sic] much worse,” one responder wrote, adding in a photo of a Dove's “Summer Glow” nourishing lotion, which was labeled as “normal to dark skin.”






Many social media users also questioned how the ad passed through reviews.



Some viewers pointed out if they boycott Unilever, the parent company that produces Dove, they won’t have other products to turn to.



However, make no mistake, this is hardly the first time Dove has created an ad with racist undertones.


In 2011, an ad for a line of body washes was accused of racism after Dove showed three women lined up beneath two boards with the words “before” and “after.” The soap company said it was meant to show the effect on skin dryness before and after using Dove, but from the way the women were lined, it seemed they turned white from dark after using the product.

In another misguided attempt to appear inclusive, Dove came up with “Real Beauty Bottles,” which featured a range of bottles for its body washes created to resemble women’s bodies.

It’s a bit difficult to take Dove’s apology seriously considering its ads have more misses than hits, particularly when it comes to women of color.

Banner/Thumbnail credits: Reuters, Chris Helgren

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