The World’s Largest Cosmetics Company: L’Oréal Slammed For Hypocritical Black Lives Matter PR Stunt
When L’Oréal Paris decided that it would be a good idea to post in solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, what they did not see coming is the backlash from something they did in the past. Munroe Bergdorf has criticised L’Oréal Paris over its support of the Black Lives Matter movement after they failed to support her in 2017 and instead, fired her for what they saw as comments that were “at odds” with the brands’ values. She called out for using Black Lives Matter as a “window of PR opportunity to jump on the bandwagon.”
The post, published on Monday evening, read: “Speaking out is worth it”, alongside the caption: “L’Oréal Paris stands in solidarity with the Black community, and against injustice of any kind.”
In late August 2017, L’Oréal Paris UK hired model and DJ Munroe Bergdorf to appear in their ‘True Match’ foundation campaign and subsequently made headlines as the brands first transgender model. In a subsequent interview with British Vogue Monrou talked about how “amazing” it was to be a part of such a huge campaign and the impact of it on young people who saw themselves in her position,
“‘It can be alienating, to see the same images all of the time and for none of them to relate to you. 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, and obviously that’s not something I’m ever going to achieve, or should ever feel I have to achieve.”
However, just days later, Munroe was dropped from the campaign. Turns out, comments that she made on Facebook calling out denouncing systemic racism and expressing frustration with the lack of understanding on the part of many white people after the “Unite the Right” white supremest rally in Virginia left one dead and many others injured landed her in hot water with the brand. Facebook removed her post for violating its standards on hate speech and L’Oréal fired her. They tweeted their statement afterwards, citing her post as being “at odds with [their] values”. The brand is said to value “diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender and religion.”
Ultimately, she became the face of the Beauty Spotlight campaign for a rival beauty company Illamasqua. Speaking to Teen Vogue, Munroe said of the new campaign,
“I’m so excited to launch this new campaign and start a new chapter with Illamasqua. Not only are they an amazingly creative brand, they also encourage their customers to think deeper about an array of social issues that are close to my heart,”
The UN Women UK advocate against female genital mutilation went on to call L’Oréal a company of “racist snakes”.
With no duty of care, without a second thought. I had to fend for myself being torn apart by the world’s press because YOU didn’t want to talk about racism. You do NOT get to do this. This is NOT okay, not even in the slightest.”
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Excuse my language but I am SO angry. FUCK YOU @lorealparis. You dropped me from a campaign in 2017 and threw me to the wolves for speaking out about racism and white supremacy. With no duty of care, without a second thought. I had to fend for myself being torn apart by the world's press because YOU didn't want to talk about racism. You even tried to get me to incriminate myself with pairing me up with your shady lawyers, when I had done NOTHING wrong. THAT is what you get for 'speaking out' when employed by @lorealparis. Racist snakes. You do NOT get to do this. This is NOT okay, not even in the slightest. I said just yesterday that it would only be a matter of time before RACIST AF brands saw a window of PR opportunity to jump on the bandwagon. Fuck you. Fuck your 'solidarity'. Where was my support when I spoke out? Where was my apology? I'm disgusted and writing this in floods of tears and shaking. This is gaslighting. If you care about me or #blacklivesmatter, don't let @lorealparis get away with this.
Before asking her followers to hold the company accountable, she shared how “disgusted” she was with the company for their “gaslighting”. Thousands have rallied behind the 33-year-old on social media, with many tweeting their support and condemning the brand.
— Chanté 🦖🇩🇲🇯🇲 (@ChantayyJayy) June 1, 2020
Where the HELL was this “solidarity” in 2017, @Loreal? When you fired @MunroeBergdorf from a campaign for speaking FACTS about white supremacy and threw her into a pit of racist and transphobic media abuse? Your performative activism STINKS and this is SO heartless. SHAME ON YOU! pic.twitter.com/gtave5CuXh
— Em (@EmilyBashforth) June 1, 2020
lrt and i'm ranting but honestly fuck big brands and their fake "woke" marketing tactics… like, you speak up now? and what? with text on a coloured background? oh you're standing in solidarity? shut up loreal you couldn't even help my split ends when you had the chance
— sadtirist (kinda hiatus) (@piss_n_moan) June 1, 2020
In a separate post, she later thanked everyone who has supported her after the incident with L’Oréal “brought up a lot of trauma” from what happened back in 2017. As such, Bergdorf has decided to take a break from social media and is not “holding [her] breath” while waiting for an apology from L’Oréal.
Last Friday, L’Oréal released a 2 – minute video with Academy Award-winning actress and producer Viola Davis, as part of a new campaign called “Lessons of Worth”. The campaign is meant to drive home the message L’Oréal has been sending customers since 1973. Their tagline of “Because I’m worth it” has been adapted with Davis instead saying, “You’re worth it.”
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Some lessons are worth learning or revisiting, especially those about the importance of knowing your worth. It can be a daily challenge, but the relationship with ourselves will always be our most significant one. Thankfully, there is no one better to help us master this lesson than Hollywood actress, @violadavis, who takes a moment to teach us how to say it and mean it – starting with a class in believing it. . . . #LessonOfWorth #WorthIt #LOrealParisFamily
Davis is heard saying what it means to tell yourself that you’re worth it, starting from what we say to ourselves,
You have reason and rarity. There is value in each and every one of us—including you.”
However, admit the tension, protests and their treatment of Bergdorf, the message by Davis has been drowned out. The brand seems to have lost its connection with the very audience that it was trying to reach out to and it’s disappointing to see.
*Cover image credits: Background: Annie Spratt on Unsplash Left, Munroe: Munroe Bergdorf on Instagram Right, L’Oréal: L’Oréal on Instagram