When L'Oreal Paris announced that transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf was joining their team earlier this week as one of the new faces of the brand, there was cause for celebration. Finally, a trans person of color was going to be the face of a major beauty brand as part of their diversity initiative!
The celebration wasn't meant to last, though, because, today, the brand announced they were ending their partnership with Bergdorf because she had dared to publicly speak out about her reaction to what happened in Charlottesville. "Honestly I don't have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes ALL white people," she wrote in the since-deleted post, before adding: "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."
It was this post that led L'Oreal to say that she wouldn't be part of the campaign anymore. As they explained in a statement, "L'Oreal supports diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender and religion." It was a shocking and ridiculous decision, which prompted social media backlash and led Bergdorf to respond in a new Facebook post that clarifies her statements on race and then targets the mistreatment of people of color by the makeup industry.
"When a transgender woman of colour, who has been selected to front up a big brand campaign to combat discrimination and lack of diversity in the beauty industry, speaks on her actual lived experience of being discriminated against because of her race and identifies the root of where that discrimination lies--white supremacy and systemic racism--that big brand cannot simply state that her thoughts are not "in line with the ethics of the brand,'" she explained, before saying: "The irony of all this is that L'Oreal Paris invited me to be part of a beauty campaign that 'stands for diversity'. The fact that up until very recently, there has been next to no mainstream brands offering makeup for black women and ethnic minorities, is in itself due to racism within the industry." You can read the full statement below: