by Graham Pierrepoint
Two sides to two different debates have opened up this week after multi-billion cosmetics giant L’Oréal chose to fire a model who was their first transgender representative after being hired as part of the chain’s #allworthit campaign – with some choosing to support the model in question – Munroe Bergdorf – via hashtags such as #boycottloreal – and others standing by the brand’s controversial choice. However, while some may assume that the decision was related to Bergdorf’s gender from headlines alone, it appears that the issue is related to racism – and that L’Oréal made the decision based on Bergdorf’s comments on Twitter being ‘at odds’ with company values.
It is reported that Bergdorf – who hails from London – made the claim on Twitter that ‘all white people’ were responsible for racial violence – on the grounds that white people ‘don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that (their) existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour’. Bergdorf’s words, while spoken from the heart, were not taken well by L’Oréal, who advised publicly that her comments were in direct antithesis to the image they had chosen her to represent – as she was brought on board to celebrate ‘modern diversity’.
Bergdorf has defended her comments in stating that she was ‘addressing the fact that western society as a whole, is a system rooted in white supremacy – designed to benefit, prioritise and protect white people before anyone of any other race’. Bergdorf also tweeted to state that ‘in tearing me down, you are proving everything that I said to be true’. The model has no shortage of support from fans and followers on Twitter, with many starting a boycott of L’Oréal in response to the decision that has only recently been made. The corporation has further cemented its stance on the issue by stating that Bergdorf’s comments were at odds with the values the company stood for – therefore meaning that their relationship required termination.
The model is said to have made such comments in light of the violence that unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia in recent weeks – where anti-racism protestors clashed with white supremacist protestors in a violent clash, killing one. Among others, President Trump’s slowness to decry the events has been criticized – as has his decision to offer a ‘balanced’ view on the tragedy that unfolded.