On Monday, June 1, Black transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf responded to L'Oréal Paris' Black Lives Matter Instagram post regarding the brand's claim that it supports the Black community and the "fight for justice." L'Oréal's post and Bergdorf's subsequent response come after protests were recently held across the U.S. condemning police brutality and the racial injustices the Black community continues to face.
L'Oréal posted a text graphic with the words "Speaking out is worth it" on Instagram on Monday, June 1. "L’Oréal Paris stands in solidarity with the Black community, and against injustice of any kind. We are making a commitment to the @naacp to support progress in the fight for justice. #BlackLivesMatter," the brand captioned the post. Not long after, Bergdorf took to both Twitter and Instagram to express her anger over L'Oréal's post, particularly after the brand's UK counterpart dropped her from a campaign in 2017 after she spoke out about racism.
"Excuse my language but I am SO angry. F*CK YOU @lorealparis. You dropped me from a campaign in 2017 and threw me to the wolves for speaking out about racism and white supremacy. With no duty of care, without a second thought," Bergdorf wrote. "I had to fend for myself being torn apart by the world's press because YOU didn't want to talk about racism. You do NOT get to do this. This is NOT okay, not even in the slightest." Elite Daily reached out to L'Oréal Paris for comment on Bergdorf's response, but did not hear back in time for publication.
On June 9, Berdorf released an updated statement on the matter on Twitter after she had an "open and constructive conversation" with L'Oréal Paris Global Brand President Delphine Viguier-Hovasse, who Bergdorf says contacted her directly and "expressed her regret" for how a situation involving L'Oréal and Bergdorf publicly unfolded in 2017. According to Bergdorf's statement, L'Oréal will be donating a little over $56,000 across Mermaids UK and UK Black Pride, and Bergdorf will be joining forces with L'Oréal Paris UK in an important way.
"When L'Oréal offered me a consultancy role to sit on their UK Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board, helping to influence and inform the brand, I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to practise what I preach and take up that seat at the table to be the representation that we deserve as a community," Bergdorf wrote. "I believe in accountability and progress, not cancellation and grudges. While what happened three years ago was extremely traumatic for me personally and professionally, sitting on a board to provide a voice and a champion for black, trans, and queer voices in the beauty industry is important to me."
Bergdorf famously became the first openly transgender model to star in a campaign for L'Oréal UK in August 2017. Later that month, a now-deleted Facebook post from Bergdorf surfaced, in which she reportedly spoke out against racism and white supremacy. "Honestly I don't have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes ALL white people," she reportedly wrote, per The Daily Mail. "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. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this sh*t."
On Sep. 1, 2017, L'Oréal UK dropped Bergdorf from its True Match campaign. The brand said in an official statement that it "supports diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender and religion" and that Bergdorf's reported comments were "at odds with those values, and as such we have taken the decision to end the partnership with her." Elite Daily reached out to L'Oréal for additional comment on this decision, but did not hear back in time for publication.
In another Facebook post Friday, Sep. 1, 2017, which has also been deleted, Bergdorf reportedly claimed that her post was taken out of context and was initially made in response to the violent Unite the Right rally that occurred in Charlottesville, VA in August 2017, per The New York Times. "I was addressing that 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,” she reportedly wrote. “Unknowingly, white people are SOCIALISED to be racist from birth onwards. It is not something genetic. No one is born racist." She later went on to clarify her posts publicly in a series of television appearances and interviews.
Following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man murdered while jogging on Feb. 23, 2020, and George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, Bergdorf has continued to use her platform to speak out about the racial injustices Black individuals endure on a daily basis. Closing out her reaction to L'Oréal's Black Lives Matter post, she also urged her followers not to let the brand off the hook: "If you care about me or #blacklivesmatter, don't let @lorealparis get away with this."
Now, however, Bergdorf says she is "looking forward to new beginnings and a new positive relationship with the L'Oréal team" following their discussion. She closed out her June 9 statement, "I hope this reconciliation is proof that we can all find a way to put aside our differences and work together to push for a more aggressive, fair, and equal world."
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on June 9 to include Bergdorf's most recent statement following a discussion with L'Oréal.
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