It’s been less than two weeks since transgender model Munroe Bergdorf was fired by L’Oréal UK after one of her Facebook posts—in the wake of white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA—went viral. Now, the model has now been hired by British-born cosmetics company Illamasqua to be the face of their latest campaign, which focuses on gender fluidity. Who better to represent this message of acceptance than Bergdorf herself?
The model posted a photo on Instagram late last night to share her excitement, with the caption, “Excited to announce that I’m one of the faces of the next @illamasqua campaign. #illamafia“. K, but can we join the #illamafia, too?
Munroe received support from within the modelling community after being let go by L’Oréal UK. After her firing, Clara Amfo, also a model in the same True Match #AllWorthIt campaign, asked for her photos to be removed in solidarity.
Amfo broke the news to her fans in a powerful Instagram post. She shared a portrait of Bergdorf with the caption: “Not even a week ago I was proud to announce that I was to be in the same campaign as Munroe. A trans woman of colour who @lorealmakeup hired to sell make up because of who she is. Who she is, a woman who wrote a nuanced post on institutional racism and white supremacy in relation to Charlottesville and how the foundations of those heinous ideals trickle in to every facet of our society,” she wrote, adding, “If she’s not “worth it” anymore, I guess I’m not either. #IStandWithMunroe.”
Not even a week ago I was proud to announce that I was to be in the same campaign as Munroe. A trans woman of colour who @lorealmakeup hired to sell make up because of who she is. Who she is, a woman who wrote a nuanced post on institutional racism and white supremacy in relation to Charlottesville and how the foundations of those heinous ideals trickle in to every facet of our society. A newspaper took her post out of context and span it as “a rant” with the most basic of dog whistle politics to rally people against her. She has now been dropped from the campaign because L’Oreal feel that she is “at odds with our values”…..If she’s not “worth it” anymore, I guess I’m not either. #IStandWithMunroe
A post shared by Clara Amfo (@claraamfo) on
The L’Oréal UK campaign aims to promote the addition of more shades of foundation to their existing line, with the aim of celebrating diversity.
Last Thursday, Daily Mail shared details about Bergdorf’s now-deleted post, in which she wrote that she doesn’t have the energy to “talk about the racial violence of white people anymore—yes ALL white people.” Bergdorf continued:
“Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes ALL white people. Because most of ya’ll don’t even realise [sic] 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. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this shit,” she wrote.
“Come see me when you realise [sic] that racism isn’t learned, it’s inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege. Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth… then we can talk. Until then stay acting shocked about how the world continues to stay f-cked at the hands of your ancestors and your heads that remain buried in the sand with hands over your ears.”
On Sept. 1, the cosmetics company announced on Twitter they would be letting go of Bergdorf.
L’Oréal champions diversity. Comments by Munroe Bergdorf are at odds with our values and so we have decided to end our partnership with her.
— L’Oréal Paris UK (@LOrealParisUK) September 1, 2017
Bergdorf shared another post on Facebook the same day and clapped back at the company—and at anyone else calling her “anti-white”—with another long post. “Let’s put my words in context,” she began. “This ‘rant’ was a direct response to the violence of WHITE SUPREMACISTS in Charlottesville. It was not written this week.”
“When I stated that ‘all white people are racist,’ I was addressing that fact that western society as a whole, is a SYSTEM rooted in white supremacy…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.'”
Since Munroe has spoken out about the firing, a lot of people on Twitter have shown her their support.
— shon faye (@shonfaye) September 1, 2017
I’m absolutely fuming. You champion diversity yeah? Or do you just want to use black bodies to sell your products – the more radical
— Charlie Cuff (@CharlieBCuff) September 1, 2017
I’m honestly disgusted, you’ve pulled her contract because she dared to comment that racism exists? How was anything she said wrong or –
— Tiana-Maria (@teawithmaria) September 1, 2017
L’Oreal dropping Munroe Bergdorf from their DIVERSITY campaign for commenting on the reality of racism is so fucked up
— Hannah Louise (@hannahlouisef) September 1, 2017
In a full statement from L’Oréal UK, the company reiterates: “L’Oréal supports diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender and religion.
“The L’Oréal Paris True Match campaign is a representation of these values and we are proud of the diversity of the ambassadors who represent this campaign.
“We believe that the recent comments by Munroe Bergdorf are at odds with those values, and as such we have taken the decision to end the partnership with her.”
FLARE will continue to update this story as it develops.
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