Dove Pulls Racist Ad – Amid History of Soap Companies Thinking Blacks are Dirty

The ad, a three-second GIF, featured three women, each removing her shirt to reveal the next.

But the transition from the black woman to the white women — compiled into a static collage by a social media user — evoked a long-running racist trope in soap advertising: a “dirty” black person cleansed into whiteness. (Among other examples was an ad by the N. K. Fairbank Company, which was in business from 1875 to 1921, that featured a white child asking a black child, “Why doesn’t your mamma wash you with Fairy soap?”)

The outcry to the Dove ad, which was posted last week, was swift, with many social media users wondering how it could have made it through multiple layers of review.

On Saturday, Dove — owned by Unilever — apologized, writing on Facebook: “Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity. In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused.”

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