Lola Ogunyemi grew up being told she was pretty ... "for a dark-skinned girl." So when Dove offered her the chance to model in one of its body wash campaigns, she jumped at it. "Having the opportunity to represent my dark-skinned sisters in a global beauty brand felt like the perfect way for me to remind the world that we are here, we are beautiful, and more importantly, we are valued," she writes in the Guardian. Unfortunately, soon after the ad debuted, Ogunyemi discovered she "had become the unwitting poster child for racist advertising." In the ad, which Dove pulled after it was posted online to massive backlash, Ogunyemi is shown removing a brown shirt ... to reveal another model in the next clip, this one white and wearing a lighter shirt. "If I had even the slightest inclination that I would be portrayed as inferior, or as the 'before' in a before and after shot, I would have been the first to say an emphatic 'no,'" she writes.
But her time at the shoot was positive, with the Dove team portraying the ad's objective as using "our differences to highlight the fact that all skin deserves gentleness." The Facebook ad that ended up sparking so much backlash, "a 13-second video clip featuring me, a white woman, and an Asian woman removing our nude tops and changing into each other," was something Ogunyemi was proud of and that her friends and family loved. But she acknowledges the full ad, a 30-second TV commercial, "does a much better job of making the campaign’s message loud and clear." She says she understands the outrage, but she thinks "the snapshots that are circulating the web" are missing a lot of context. Dove would have been within its rights to defend "their creative vision, and their choice to include me, an unequivocally dark-skinned black woman, as a face of their campaign," she writes, emphasizing that she is not a victim. Click for her full column.