L’Oreal has fired its first transgender model, Munroe Bergdorf, over inflammatory comments made on Facebook regarding the Charlottesville, Virginia, riots.
Bergdorf was a representative for L’Oreal’s "True Match" campaign, which boasts a celebration of diversity and rejection of traditional beauty standards. It strikes us, the Editorial Board, as ironic that L’Oreal would fire a black transgender woman over calling out racists.
“Honestly, I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes ALL white people,” Bergdorf says in a Facebook rant.
The representatives at L’Oreal defended their decision by saying a diversity campaign should represent all aspects of diversity, and it should be respectful of that.
We feel that firing Bergdorf was extreme, considering several of the white nationalists who attacked counter protesters at the Charlottesville riots were only arrested after a man rallied people on social media to identify and locate them.
Other faces of international brands have been caught in similar scenarios, but still have their contracts. For example, James Charles became CoverGirl’s first CoverBoy this year. Earlier in the year, he posted a joke on Twitter about catching Ebola if he went to Africa.
CoverGirl simply stated that Charles’ joke did not represent their company and kept him as a CoverBoy because he issued an apology.
The makeup industry is not very diverse to begin with. Few drugstore brands offer a full range of shades for women of all colors. L’Oreal’s True Match line offers 33 shades, 11 of which are dark shades. This line of foundation has been hailed as a “cult favorite” by articles listing the best foundations for women of color.
Bergdorf could be a face for women who may feel fed up with not being represented by big drugstore makeup brands.
Bergdorf is a United Kingdom representative, not an American one. The repercussions of white nationalistic hate and violence in America has spread to the point of costing a black woman her job in the UK because she spoke up about it.
In a recent interview with Channel 4, Bergdorf defended her comments. She said her purpose for writing the post was to get to the root of racism. “In my head, I did not think there would be that much of a problem in identifying that racism is coming from white culture, white privilege, white supremacy.”
Bergdorf goes on to recall how society is not a level playing field for people of color, the LGBTQ+ community or anyone else not benefiting from white racism.
The most important part of her interview comes when Bergdorf makes a bold statement to say people cannot call themselves “un-racist” if they are not actually doing anything to dismantle systemic racism.
L’Oreal representatives stated that Bergdorf’s views and statements are at odds with the values of the company and that was the ultimate reason for breaking their contract.
We hope big companies will take a moment to consider what their models and employees are actually saying before firing them. Society is creating a harsh double standard on who should be fired for what. We are firing those who speak out against cruelty but ignoring the ones who are perpetuating hate and violence.
We should really consider Bergdorf’s comment about those who claim not to be racist, yet sit back and watch as racism runs rampant in the streets of our cities. L’Oreal, take Bergdorf’s comment to heart as well.