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Black Woman at Center of Controversial Dove Ad: ‘It’s Been Taken Out of Context’

After controversy erupted over what many described as a racially insensitive Dove campaign, the Black model at the center of it says she’s not a victim. Lola Ogunyemi, a Nigerian woman born in London and raised in Atlanta, says she’s happy with the ad. She along with models of other ethnicities appeared in a promotion for a body wash that was meant to show its versatility. In the ad, each model removed a t-shirt and transformed into the next.

However, backlash sprung up when many thought a 3-second Facebook clip appeared to indicate that Ogunyemi was the “before” while a white model was the “after.”

“I thought the concept was creative and it had good intentions,” Ogunyemi tells the U.K.’s Sky News Monday, Oct. 9. “I think the way that it’s been taken out of context is a bit upsetting. And I think in this case people should try to be a bit more informed wherever possible and get as much information as they can before making a decision on something like this.”

In a Tuesday, Oct. 10 op-ed for The Guardian, Ogunyemi explained the models knew the purpose of the campaign was to “use our differences to highlight the fact that all skin deserves gentleness.”

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Dove issued two apologies for the advertisement, saying it “missed the mark” and “we deeply regret the offense it caused.” It went on to explain the intention of the campaign and announced it is reviewing its content creation and approval process.

While Ogunyemi says she understands why Dove apologized, she noted it could have defended the campaign.

“They could have also defended their creative vision,” she wrote in the op-ed. “And their choice to include me, an unequivocally dark-skinned black woman, as a face of their campaign. I am not just some silent victim of a mistaken beauty campaign. I am strong, I am beautiful, and I will not be erased.”

As for why she decided to speak out, Ogunyemi tells Sky New there was “a lot of missing context and information.”

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