As anti-racism protests continue around the globe in the wake of the death of George Floyd on May 25, one of the world’s biggest beauty brand, L’Oréal, is taking notice. The French cosmetics company has recently announced that it will no longer use the words light,’ ‘whitening,’ ‘fair,’ and ‘lightening’ in its promotional campaigns.
As the Black Lives Matter movement continues, L’Oréal has found itself in hot water for its skin-lightening products, said to be specifically aimed at the Asian and Caribbean community—both places where fair skin is still considered as something to be aspired to.
The move comes after model and transgender activist, Munroe Bergdorf, accused L’Oréal of hypocrisy following its message on social media. In response to the tragic death of George Floyd, the brand stated that it “stands in solidarity with the Black community and against injustice of any kind” and that “speaking out is worth it.”
This has come as a surprise to some since Bergdorf was fired by L’Oréal in September 2017 following her comments against systemic racism in response to the killing of an anti-far-right protester by white supremacist in Charlottesville, Virginia. The post in questions 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 y’all don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour. Your entire existence is built on racism.”
Bergdorf made history by being hired as L’Oréal UK’s first openly transgender model, states Sheila Dickey from glamourpilot.com. “Shortly after being sacked by L’Oréal, Bergdorf was hired by a rival beauty brand Illamasqua, becoming the face of the Beauty Spotlight campaign that centered around gender fluidity.”
While Bergdorf has said that the new president of L’Oréal Paris, Delphine Viguier, apologised for the way the situation was handled, she was quick to respond to L’Oréal’s ‘Speaking Out is Worth it’ post on Instagram. “You dropped me from a campaign in 2017 and threw me to the wolves for speaking out about racism and white supremacy. With no duty of care, without a second thought. I had to fend for myself being torn apart by the world’s press because YOU didn’t want to talk about racism … You do NOT get to do this. This is NOT okay, not even in the slightest.” she wrote.
In line with L’Oréal’s recent move to distance itself from using certain terms to sell its products, Johnson & Johnson has announced that it will stop selling skin-whitening products in the Middle East and Asia.