Skincare brand Dove has issued an apology after sparking outrage with a series of “racist” images on Facebook.
The social media campaign – which has since been removed from the networking site – showed a black woman peeling off her T-shirt to reveal a white woman underneath her skin. A further image in the three-second video clip saw the white woman undressing to reveal an Asian woman.
It wasn’t long before Dove was slammed for racial insensitivity, with many taking to social media to criticise the company.
While some defended Dove, suggesting that critics were being “over-sensitive” to the clip, others were quick to point out why the imagery was so “problematic”.
“This is not sensitive to the fact that racism is still very much alive and dangerous,” wrote one Facebook user. “For anyone to criticise another for seeing racism in this ad shows just how blind to reality some people are. AND that is one of the reasons why racism still exists.”
Responding to the backlash on Twitter, Dove wrote: “An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of colour thoughtfully.”
And, in an emailed statement to ABC News over the weekend, Dove reiterated that the ad “did not represent the diversity of real beauty which is something Dove is passionate about and is core to our beliefs.
“It should not have happened and we apologise deeply and sincerely for the offence.”
It's not the first time Dove has been criticised for being racially insensitive in an ad: in 2011, the brand appeared to imply that of three women pictured, the most desirable skin tone was the lightest (see above).
The brand said in a statement at the time: “All three women are intended to demonstrate the ‘after’ product benefit. We do not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience.”
Earlier this year, however, Dove was praised for its #RealBeauty Pledge, which consisted of three vows: to feature real women, no digital distortion in its campaigns and build body confidence and self-esteem.
The accompanying photo campaign included 32 women, ranging in age from 11 to 71, from more than 15 countries, including Iran, Indonesia, Germany and Brazil.
Along with their portraits, each woman described what beauty means to them and how they’ve overcome any insecurities.