Dove Body Wash: Germs or Skin Color?

When you think of body wash, typically one would think of germs, washing, cleanliness, or many other things of similar sort.  Generally, advertisements for body wash products would adhere to these common conceptions of what it should be.  However, a recent advertisement from Dove Body Wash shifted conversation from what would be considered typical body wash thoughts, to one of race.  The commercial led to accusations of whitewashing and racism, hurting the image of Dove Body Wash.

As part of a recent ad campaign, Dove released a commercial in which an African American woman was removing her top, and as she did this the black woman suddenly turned into a white woman.  The implications of this action were as though the African American woman had been “cleansed,” and therefore turned into a white woman.  It was like the woman had removed her skin as if it were dirt to be washed, and the Dove Body Wash revealed the “clean” woman, who was of course, white.  The commercial had clear underlying racist aspects to it, which did not go over well when the advertisement was released to the public.

In response to public outcry and criticism, Dove released a statement regarding the statement in which they stated ” “This did not represent the diversity of real beauty which is something Dove is passionate about and is core to our beliefs, and it should not have happened.  “We apologize deeply and sincerely for the offense that it has caused and do not condone any activity or imagery that insults any audience.”

Dove’s response was not well received, doing little to curb the backlash.  The statement was described as a “copy and paste response,” a thought that was held by the masses.  Further discontent was made apparent as #DoneWithDove trended for weeks after the advertisement made its initial airing.

This Dove Body Wash commercial managed to put down an entire race with one simple image.  Due to this, not only did the brand lose a massive market, but one can only imagine the ways in which this ad may have made African Americans feel about themselves.  Being portrayed in the way that they were, many black people were presumably made to be more self-conscious, feeling badly about themselves, perhaps gross even, that this white woman was seen as superior to them.  On the other hand, many may have been more outraged, or angry, rather than sad.  Despite the poor tasted nature of the commercial, positives have still arose from the advertisement, as people across the nation stood up to the out of touch racism shown, and put it in its place.

The message that this advertisement portrayed, intended or not, was that white people are cleaner than black people.  It portrayed African Americans as dirty and undesirable, holding clear racist undertones.  This Dove Body Wash commercial proved to be offensive to an entire race of people, and sparked nationwide outrage due both to the insults the commercial brought, as well as Dove’s lackluster response.  Perhaps in the future they will put more thought into what is and isn’t acceptable in today’s society.