Dove sparks racial tension with controversial ad


Ariell Reed, Contributer

Dove recently faced backlash after sharing an allegedly racist ad. The three-second clip, which depicts an African American woman removing a brown shirt and transitioning to a white woman in a lighter shirt, left social media in a frenzy.

Minutes after the body wash commercial surfaced on the web, memes and the hashtag #BoycottDove became a trending topic. Not only was the African American community outraged by the commercial, but also women of various ethnicities were offended by Dove.

Many people were shocked that a large brand would release such a controversial ad. “My initial reaction was, ‘How can they do this, this is so racist.’ It’s so racist, not because it’s a black and white woman, but other races like Asians can relate too,” said student Nhan Nguyen.

Dove has an effect on a lot of people because it is a popular soap company used in many households. Although the company might not have intended to send a racist message, the ad came across that way. The message could’ve been portrayed differently. “The way they used a black woman to become a white woman could’ve been used another way,” said Nguyen.

Despite Dove’s statement saying the ad was a mistake, it’s still unacceptable behavior by a national brand. “You have to think carefully about it before you do that. It’s like everybody can see it, not just (some) people. It can affect your business” said Nguyen.

Nhan Nguyen won’t immediately boycott Dove because the company’s products work for her; however, she is open to finding alternatives. “When I find a product that works the same, I’m not going to use [Dove] anymore because I hate racism,” said Nguyen.

After watching the ad, graduate student Elizabeth Brownlee shook her head. “I don’t know what they were thinking. I don’t think it was their intention (to be racist), but I think they should’ve been more sensitive to it. I don’t understand; in the process of developing a commercial there’s a lot of people involved, and the fact that not one person thought that was missing the mark, I don’t get that,” said Brownlee.

The message that came across was that what’s inside of you is a white person, which isn’t reality at all. The masses perceived the message as being that inner beauty means being white.

Brownlee says she won’t boycott Dove, but she will stop buying Dove products.  “To me, boycott[ing] is like you’re physically going out of your way to denounce something. I just won’t buy it,” Brownlee said. “I’m not going to make a ruckus though. It’s funny because Dove is known for making strides with body image, promoting different shapes and sizes. The fact that this happened, I don’t get it.”

As an African-American woman, Symone Joseph was shocked after watching the commercial for the first time and realizing it wasn’t a joke. “I don’t think they meant to be racist, but … with everything going on, they had to know it’ll be controversial,” said the sophomore.

The message sent to black women was that being a white woman or a white person is just better than being black. As someone who struggles with their skin color, Joseph is insulted. “I guess being a black woman with darker skin isn’t good enough,” she said.

Joseph will boycott because “they have to know that they can’t just put out controversial messages like that and expect to be rewarded with profit.”

Joseph hopes Dove learns from the backlash of the commercial. “I hope they fired whoever approved that ad,” she said.

The ad has been removed from Dove’s Facebook and the company issued the following apology:

“As a part of a campaign for Dove body wash, a 3-second video clip was posted to the US Facebook page which featured three women of different ethnicities, each removing a t-shirt to reveal the next woman. The short video was intended to convey that Dove body wash is for every woman and be a celebration of diversity, but we got it wrong. It did not represent the diversity of real beauty which is something Dove is passionate about and is core to our beliefs, and it should not have happened. We have removed the post and have not published any other related content. This should not have happened and we are re-evaluating our internal processes for creating and approving content to prevent us making this type of mistake in the future. We apologize deeply and sincerely for the offense that it has caused and do not condone any activity or imagery that insults any audience.”