You’ve probably seen the photo by now: a Dove Facebook ad that makes you squint at your computer screen because you really can’t believe what you’re seeing, which is blatant racism.
OITNB star Danielle Brooks channeled her thoughts on the ad in a piece titled “Did Dove Just Call Me Dirty?” for Lena Dunham’s blog Lenny Letter, focusing on the message this image presents that goes much deeper than a non-person of color might realize.
Danielle, who participated in a Dove campaign before, wrote,
“…the sad fact is that no matter how much adults like my mom built us up and made us feel pride in who we were and what we looked like, there was always a sneaky, vicious monster out there, determined to knock us right back down. That same monster has been whispering in the ears of little brown and black children since before my great-grandmother’s time, telling us that the color of our skin makes us dirty.”
It’s the old, problematic idea that white is clean and pure and black is dirty and sinful. We’ve seen that in literature, religious texts, popular culture etc. for centuries.
The ad literally shows a black woman in a brown top contently removing her shirt (and skin?? like, what is this) to reveal the white woman in a cream top underneath. So, the message being a black woman cleanses herself into whiteness.
As Danielle explained, this idea is incredibly harmful to people of color. Which should be clear.
Dove issued an apology and statement of regret, but Danielle isn’t buying it.
“Do you regret that your ad has caused controversy, that people were offended by the ad? Do you regret the negative publicity? The potential damage to your bottom line? Do you regret that you’ve labeled one of your products a ‘nourishing lotion for normal to dark skin’? Do you even have black people on your marketing and advertising team?”
Drag them. They clearly have a history of deserving it.
Anne Catherine Demere is an intern with Femestella. She is almost too passionate about pop culture and the entertainment industry and she loves to write about it. One of her favorite things is when feminism and pop culture overlap. She’s either starting a new TV show or in class, there’s no in between. And those two rarely coincide.