L’Oréal UK has dropped Munroe Bergdorf, the brand’s first transgender ambassador, from their new diversity campaign after a Facebook post by the model, which denounced white privilege and racism, went viral. As Buzzfeed reports, the post, which was written by Bergdorf a few weeks ago in reaction to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, stated that the white people refuse to acknowledge their “existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of color.”
Earlier this week, Bergdorf made history when she was announced as the first openly transgender woman to represent L’Oréal. The model and activist, who is black, was set to be featured in a diversity campaign by the brand which focused on the underrepresentation of women of color in the beauty industry. However, the makeup and skincare giant announced this morning that Bergdorf would no longer front the campaign because of her thoughts on racial violence.
While the Facebook post by Bergdorf has been deleted, The Daily Mail claims to have text from the original post. Here’s what Bergdorf said:
“Honestly, I don't have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people anymore. Yes ALL white people,” she wrote on her page. “Because most of y'all don't even realize or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of color. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From microaggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this sh*t.
“Come see me when you realize that racism isn't learned, it's inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege. Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth … then we can talk.”
The model then continued her critique of white privilege, saying: “Until then, stay acting shocked about how the world continues to stay f*cked at the hands of your ancestors and your heads that remain buried in the sand with hands over your ears.”
After Bergdorf’s take on white privilege came to public attention, some social media users called the model “racist” for expressing her frustration with racial violence and oppression. Detractors started the hashtag #BoycottLOreal to put pressure on L’Oréal to remove Bergdorf from the diversity campaign.
And it worked.
On Friday morning, the brand announced via Twitter that Bergdorf was dropped from the campaign for her comments.
UPDATE: A L’Oréal spokesperson provided comment to Bustle, stating "L’Oréal supports diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender and religion. The L’Oréal Paris True Match campaign is a representation of these values and we are proud of the diversity of the Ambassadors who represent this campaign.
We believe that the recent comments by Munroe Bergdorf are at odds with those values, and as such we have taken the decision to end the partnership with her. L’Oréal remains committed to celebrating diversity and breaking down barriers in beauty."
The #BoycottLoreal hashtag since become filled with people who disagree with the brand’s decision to drop Bergdorf. These social media users and L’Oréal lovers believe Bergdorf was justified in her comments, and that the brand is hypocritical for firing the model from a campaign promoting the importance of racial inclusion and acceptance.
Bergdorf reacted to the news of her firing through her Facebook page, calling out The Daily Mail for falsely contextualizing her words. She also slammed L’Oréal for their lack of support for her comments and critique.
UPDATE: When Bustle asked Bergdorf for comment on the situation, she referred us back to her Facebook post.
The model used the post to clarify portions of her original statement, which was an apparent reaction to The Daily Mail’s headline which proclaimed “L’Oréal transgender model says all white people are racist.”
“When I stated that 'all white people are racist,' I was addressing that fact that western society as a whole, is a SYSTEM rooted in white supremacy — designed to benefit, prioritize and protect white people before anyone of any other race,” Bergdorf wrote in the Facebook post. “Unknowingly, white people are SOCIALIZED to be racist from birth onwards. It is not something genetic. No one is born racist…"
Bergdorf continues: “So when a transgender woman of color, who has been selected to front up a big brand campaign to combat discrimination and lack of diversity in the beauty industry, speaks on her actual lived experience of being discriminated against because of her race and identifies the root of where that discrimination lies — white supremacy and systemic racism — that big brand cannot simply state that her thoughts are not ‘in line with the ethics of the brand.’ You cannot just simply cash in because you've realized there's a hole in the market and that there is money to be made from people of color who have darker skin tones.”
The model called for her supporters to boycott L’Oréal, saying: “If L'Oreal truly wants to offer empowerment to underrepresented women, then they need to acknowledge THE REASON why these women are underrepresented within the industry in the first place. This reason is discrimination.”
In an interview with Vogue UK before her spot in L’Oréal’s campaign was revoked, Bergdorf stressed the importance of diverse representation — especially given the negative impact of racism and white privilege on people of color.
“It’s important to be represented, because if you just see images of white women then you start to measure yourself against a white standard of beauty,” she said. “Obviously that’s not something I’m ever going to achieve, or should ever feel I have to achieve.”