Dove Ad Depicting Women of Color Prove Why Diversity is Necessary

dove_women_of_color_ad_backlash_controversyGot Dove anyone? Well, we won’t be surprised if you’ve decided to put the beauty brand and any products you’ve bought from them in the past on temporary or permanent pause.

It was to our surprise when the beauty brand issued an apology over the weekend, after running a soap ad campaign earlier in the week, seemingly depicting women of color as “unclean” in comparison to their white female counterparts.

If you take a look at the image above, at first glance, it may not be clear why there’s controversy. But after further evaluation, many believe that the ad “suggests” that the first woman (visibly of color) is stripped; becoming clean, transforming into her white counterpart.

Upon initially viewing the Facebook ad, some assumed it was fake because a “sophisticated and well-respected beauty brand and company” such as Dove, where inclusivity had been a focal point with some of their recent ads, couldn’t dare do such a thing, right?

Unfortunately, it was true. And it was their apology that confirmed they’d made a poor decision in running the ad.

After receiving backlash, the company pulled the ad and took to their Facebook page to say, “Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity. In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused. The feedback that has been shared is important to us and we’ll use it to guide us in the future.”

The damage was done, however.

Many expressed their disappointment in the ad, while others noted that for the ad to have been approved, it would have gone through an advertising approval committee; causing many to believe that Dove more than missed the mark here. Could it be intentional?

Whether the release of the ad was, in fact, intentional or simply poor judgment on the Dove staff, we believe this is precisely why there ought to be more diversity and inclusivity to ensure people of color are depicted respectfully and feel more empowered in how our stories and narratives are told. The ad was degrading and certainly disrespectful.

Do you accept the company’s apology? Why or why not?

Written By: Antoinette Warren 


Toni is a content curator and digital marketer who enjoys writing thought-provoking pieces to heighten engagement and healthy discourse; especially those pertaining to women’s issues and people of color.


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