L'Oréal is under fire for supporting the Black Lives Matter – just three years after dropping Munroe Bergdorf, a Black trans woman, from their campaign.
The beauty giant came out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd, an American Black man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Why is L’Oréal receiving backlash now?
The brand shared a series of posts on social media to support the movement, but their reaction has been branded as ‘tone deaf’.
This is because it comes less than three years after they dropped Munroe Bergdorf, a trans Black woman, for speaking out on the very same issues they are now ‘speaking out’ on too.
One said, ‘Worth it? How so? Did you show how much it‘s worth it when you fired Munroe Bergdorf for speaking out? How she was hired to show diversity yet speaking truth threatened you so much you let her go? You don’t care about diversity or BLM you care about your image. Do better.’
Others have also compared L’Oréal’s treatment of Munroe to how they treated Amber Heard, after a recording of her admitting to hitting ex-husband Johnny Depp emerged earlier this year. After many complained about keeping the actor as a spokesperson, L’Oréal took no action – and simply stated that they would ‘share your comments with the appropriate individuals in our company’.
‘L’Oréal, you are so incredibly tone deaf and sanctimonious. And YOUR privilege is showing. You fire a black woman for speaking against racism & then you hire an abusive white woman…all without batting an eye bc you think you can do whatever you want. THAT is privilege’, one wrote.
Following L’Oréal’s post, Munroe wrote on Twitter, ‘Their [L’Oréal] choice to ignore me & not acknowledge the emotional, mental & professional harm that they caused me since sacking me in 2017 after speaking out about white supremacy & racism, speaks volumes.
‘So does their choice not to engage with the thousands of black community members and allies who have left comments of concern on their last two posts, in response to their claim to support the black community despite an evident history of being unwilling to talk about the issues that black people face globally because of white supremacy.
‘L’Oréal claiming to stand with the black community, yet also refusing to engage with the community on this issue, or apologise for the harm they caused to a black female queer transgender employee, shows us who they are just another big brand who seeks to capitalise from a marginalised movement, by widening their audience and attempting to improve their public image.
‘Brands need to be aware of their own track record. It’s unacceptable to claim to stand with us, if the receipts show a history of silencing black voices. Speaking out can’t only be “worth it” when you’re white. Black voices matter.’
Why did L’Oréal drop Munroe Bergdorf from their campaign?
The model was announced as L’Oréal Paris’ first-ever transgender model in August 2017, and was set to appear in their True Match campaign, which supposedly champions diversity.
However, the model was dropped after speaking out in the aftermath of white supremacist and neo-Nazi rallies that took place in Charleston, US.
Her post on social media, addressing white privilege, read, ‘Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes ALL white people.
‘Because most of ya’ll don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour.’
She later provided more insight into what she meant, by saying, “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, prioritise and protect white people before anyone of any other race.
“Unknowingly, white people are socialised to be racist from birth onwards. It is not something genetic. No one is born racist.”
L’Oréal fired Munroe, and issued a statement saying, ‘L’Oréal supports diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender and religion.
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‘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 Paris has been contacted for comment.