Beauty

L’Oréal Paris U.K. Fires Transgender Model Munroe Bergorf Over Her Anti-Racist Comments

On Monday, L’Oréal Paris U.K. debuted its new YoursTruly True Match campaign. The ads starred five diverse beauties. It was a historic moment: model, DJ and activist Munroe Bergorf became the first out trangender woman to feature in a L’Oréal campaign in the U.K. (Hari Nef holds the U.S. title.) However, as of today, L’Oréal U.K. has severed ties with the model due to comments the company feels are “at odds with [its] values.”

Nearly three weeks ago, in the wake of the racism-fueled violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Bergdorf posted the following statement on her private Facebook page. The post was later deleted by Facebook, having been reported by multiple users.

“Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes all white people. 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 micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this s***. 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.”

Today, L’Oréal U.K. took to Twitter to announce the end of its partnership with Bergdorf. While the beauty brand failed to specify which of Bergdorf’s “comments” led to its decision, many believe it was her anti-racist Facebook post.  

Twitter users were quick to call out L’Oréal U.K. for its hypocrisy.

Unmoved by the Twitter backlash, the company issued the following statement to Mic on Friday morning: “We support diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender and religion…We believe that the recent comments by L’Oréal Paris UK Spokesperson 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.”

Bergdorf, meanwhile, is calling for a boycott of L’Oréal Paris: “Sit still and smile in a beauty campaign ‘championing diversity,’ but don’t actually speak about the fact that lack of diversity is due to racism,” she wrote in a statement to Mic. “Or speak about the origins of racism. It’ll cost you your job.”

“This makeup brand cares about nothing but MONEY,” she continued. “I urge you to boycott L’Oréal Paris. I can’t express how disappointed I am in the entire team in dealing with misquotes that were entirely placed out of context.” Said misquotes appeared in a Daily Mail article on the subject titled: “L’Oréal’s First Transgender Model Is SACKED by the Cosmetics Giant After Claiming ‘ALL White People’ Are Racist in Extraordinary Facebook Rant.” (Right off the bat, the Daily Mail‘s facts are wrong — Nef’s L’Oréal ads predate Bergdorf’s.)

Friday morning, Bergdorf penned a lengthy Facebook post directed at both the Daily Mail and her former employer. Here’s an excerpt:

“If you truly want equality and diversity, you need to actively work to dismantle the source of what created this discrimination and division in the first place. 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.

If L’Oréal truly wants to offer empowerment to underrepresented women, then they need to acknowledge…why these women are underrepresented within the industry in the first place. This reason is discrimination — an action which punches down from a place of social privilege. We need to talk about why women of color were and still are discriminated against within the industry, not just see them as a source of revenue.”

[ via Mic ]